Rated 4.0

The paranormal title character is a little kid named Norman Babcock. Much to the consternation of those around him, especially his parents and his teenaged sister, Courtney, he keeps dropping hints that he can talk to the spirits of the dead. This beguiling animated fantasy from Oregon’s Laika Entertainment (Coraline) lets us see right away that he does indeed communicate with the ghost of his kindly grandmother (who seems to have camped out on the couch in his parents’ living room). His family’s skepticism is echoed in harsher terms by his schoolmates including especially the class bully, a punk named Alvin. Fortunately, for Norman and the movie (and us), Mr. Prenderghast, a spooky neighbor who is also paranormal, enlists him for a mission of mercy that will take him, via the local cemetery, into the haunted Puritan history of his home town of Blithe Hollow. Laika’s enchanting stop-motion animation brings this little fable (scripted by Chris Butler, who co-directed with Sam Fell) to full bodied life and the deft layering of images creates a nice sense of extrasensory awareness. John Goodman (Mr. Prenderghast) and Elaine Stritch (Grandma) are special standouts in the cast of distinctive voices. Cinemark 14, Paradise Cinema 7. Rated PG.