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The Playlist

Review: Brilliant Animated Movie 'ParaNorman' Is One Of The Summer's Biggest (And Best) Surprises

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • August 4, 2012 10:44 AM
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  • 15 Comments
This summer has been full of big, glitzy animated movies from most of the major studios that have made tons of money but left audiences cold. None of them were particularly imaginative, entertaining or emotionally involving, instead choosing to coast on a steady stream of solid (if not exactly dazzling) images and a host of comfortingly familiar celebrity voices. And yet, at the tail end of the summer, along comes a movie proudly told in an old school animation style, from a tiny animation house and distributed by a studio known mostly for distributing arty fare like "Brokeback Mountain," that blows away all the slick studio confections both in terms of sheer visual wonder and (more surprisingly) emotional heft. Laika's stop-motion wonder "ParaNorman" isn't just the best animated movie of the summer, it's one of the best movies of the year. Period.

Beautiful Trailer, Bland Poster Debut For 3D Stop-Motion Animated ‘ParaNorman’

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 30, 2011 3:50 AM
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  • 5 Comments
2011 hasn’t exactly been an exceptional year for animated films. Besides this spring’s deliciously strange “Rango” and this summer’s gorgeous, supple “Winnie the Pooh,” there hasn’t been a whole lot to fawn over, animation-wise. (When Pixar unloads a colossal letdown like “Cars 2,” you know the medium is having an “off year.”) Thankfully, 2012 is poised to be an embarrassment of riches, with new movies from proven studios like Blue Sky (“Ice Age: Continental Drift”), Illumination ("The Lorax"), Disney ("Wreck-It Ralph" and Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie") Aardman (“The Pirates! Band of Misfits”) and the beloved Studio Ghibli (“The Secret World of Arriety”), as well as a brand-new Pixar property (“Brave,” plus the heavily Pixar-associated live action hybrid “John Carter”) and the debut features from children’s illustrator William Joyce (DreamWorks’ “Rise of the Guardians”) and super-genius animator Genndy Tarkovsky (Sony’s “Hotel Transylvania”). Also being released next year is “ParaNorman,” the new 3D stop-motion film from Laika, the Portland, Oregon-based animation studio that gave us the wonderful “Coraline” back in 2009, and judging by the jaw-dropping new trailer, it’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

Review: Seann William Scott's 'American Loser' Fails To Make Sense Of A Fractured Life

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 26, 2011 2:06 AM
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  • 6 Comments
There’s a vague sense of cruelty to the direct-to-DVD market, which is used to solely accommodate cheap genre products, but more often seems like a dumping ground for unusual niche projects that die a slow death on the festival circuit. They usually get treated much like the aptly titled “American Loser,” a dramatic half-comedy with Seann William Scott that went through a number of title changes before being dumped onto the market. The film now carries a title that not only insults the lead character, and by extension Scott (who has experimented a few times in risky projects that ended up with negligible releases), but it cravenly attempts to exploit the brand name for which he is known, “American Pie.”

Jeff Garlin, Lynn Shelton, Kristen Bell And More Join 'Safety Not Guaranteed'

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • May 12, 2011 7:20 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Even the most casual dabbler in Internet jokes have seen the ad at the bottom of this piece, a baffling classified entry that holds infinite potential for a good story (and apparently 834509 memes). However, aspiring screenwriters better minimize their pirated Final Draft because filming has already begun in Seattle on "Safety Not Guaranteed," the movie inspired by the ad that's being directed by Colin Treverrow from a script by constant cohort Derek Connolly. After working in some smaller TV production and movies, the Duplass brothers have taken the two under their wing and seem to have wrangled the right kind of talent.

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