Story: A young boy named Norman must use his ability to talk to the dead to stop the rise of an evil witch that has been kept asleep for hundreds of years. Helping him are his reluctant sister, a bully who doesn’t like him, a new friend, and his friend’s working out enthuiast older brother. But can they stop the witch and an awakened zombie hoard from destroying the town?
Thoughts: ParaNorman is not a solid comedy. Quite a few jokes fall flat or fail to deliver on the laughs the writers were hoping for. I don’t want to sell the comedy short. The film has a wonderful sense of humour about it, and there are funny moments. Just don’t expect any belly laughs that segue into rolling around on the floor in fits of uncontrollable laughter.
What does work in spades is the film’s design, which is wonderfully grosteque and moody but not in a way that is inappropriate for young children or that will make older viewers turn away in disgust. It’s a strange mixture of light and dark, funny and scary that treads the lines between them in a perfect family friendly sort of way.
The movie also packs in good messages amongst the scares, humour, and mayhem. Themes of forgiveness, the pointlessness of revenge, not judging by outward appearance, and accepting people for who they are are told beautifully and honestly. The film treats its audience, adult and kid alike, respectfully, refusing to dumb down any of these messages. The story gets intense in a couple instances, but I firmly believe kids can handle it.
In a nutshell, ParaNorman is a comedy horror film with material for the whole family to latch onto. It’s got great messages for kids, plenty of jokes for the adults, and is simply a well-told tale about a little boy and the past mistakes of a town.