ParaNorman is about a boy who can talk to ghosts and is the only hope of protecting his town from a centuries-old curse.
This is a pretty standard story for an animated kids movie - an awkward kid, who is tormented because he is misunderstood, must learn to embrace who he is while the rest of the town learns how to accept those who are different. However, I don't know how appropriate it is for young children. The movie starts with Norman watching a zombie movie and talking to his recently deceased grandmother. His family's reaction is pretty harsh, basically saying "she's dead, move on." The subjects of death, loss, loneliness, misunderstanding, judging others, fear, and mental stability are some of the more mature themes that are found throughout the movie.
Along with some mature thematic elements, most of the humor is pretty morbid. There is one scene that immediately comes to mind where there is a slapstick comedy bit - with a lifeless corpse. Although I laughed at that scene and thought there was a good balance between humor and morbidity, I think that this kind of humor might be a little too mature for kids. It's not that it is too explicit, but rather it's that the content and topic of death might be a little more than what most kids are able to handle. Plus, there were some scenes that were actually pretty creepy, especially for a kids movie.
However, once your kids are old enough to handle the mature subject matter of death and the occasional creepy scene (and one time where the grandmother calls someone a "jackass"), I highly recommend it! I loved the stop-motion animation style and the amount of detail that went into it. In some scenes, you can see reflections in the characters eyes, as you would in real life. There was some great cinematography, use of color, and light and shadow. Plus, there were some nice little nods to classic horror movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th.
Rating/Recommendation: 4/5. I really loved this movie! The characters were relate-able, lovable, and showed actual character development. The morals were clear, but there was some ambiguity in who was "bad" and why - which I felt created more depth and complexity. And the animation and voice-acting really brought these characters to life...even the zombies.
Be sure to check back soon for more reviews in Halloween Movie Month! In the meantime, leave comments on this (or any other) review, follow me here and on twitter (@GargyleReviews), and let me know what movies you'd like for me to review for Halloween Movie Month!
- The Gargyle