Film: ParaNorman (2012)
Cast includes: Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road), Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Leslie Mann (Knocked Up), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad), John Goodman (The Artist), Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone), Tucker Albrizzi (Spooky Buddies), Elaine Stritch (Mother-in-Law)
Writer/Director: Chris Butler (Coraline), Director: Sam Fell (The Tale of Despereaux)
Genre: Animation | Adventure | Comedy (93 minutes)
"What's happening now," asks Grandma. "The zombie's eating her head," says Norman. "That's not very nice. It'll ruin his dinner." (Grandma's always so practical.) When Norman tells Mom and Dad that Grandma says her feet are cold, Dad reminds Norman, "Grandma's dead." "Grandma talks to me," Norman reminds them. Mom and Dad wish Norman would get over it. "Grandma's in a better place now." "Grandma's on the sofa," Norman insists. Dad's adamant... "I won't have him turn out like that uncle of yours," he says to Mom. And that's the reason Mr. Prenderghast isn't allowed to visit Norman any more.
As Norman heads to school the next day, he says hello to all his friends, the ghosts he sees along the way, the ones who died suddenly or have unfinished business. The other kids at school think Norman's a freak, and that's why he finds "FREAK" written on his locker. He's not the only kid who gets picked on. Neil has "FATTY" written on his locker. In preparation for the 300th anniversary of Blithe Hollow, Norman's class is rehearsing a play about the witches curse. (Norman isn't giving his performance enough drama to suit the teacher.) Afterward, Neil wants to walk home with Norman, but Norman "likes to be alone." "So do I. So let's do it together," exclaims Neil. Neil says he hates being bullied. "You can't stop bullying. It's part of human nature," says Norman. "It's survival of the thickest." The next day, Mr. Prenderghast reappears... in the toilet, of all places with something urgent he has to tell Norman. "The witches curse is real... You're the one who needs to stop it!" But wait! Norman's just a kid -- what does that mean, anyway? What must he do?
Unfortunately Prenderghast doesn't stick around to give Norman answers about the witch, the grave, the book or the zombies that are wreaking havoc on the town. And furthermore, Blithe Hollow residents are afraid. They're ganging up on Norman. But Norman's the only one who can stop the zombies! ParaNorman is out in 3D and 2D. Unlike some movies, the 3D feature actually enriches the experience, which is really a lot of fun. The animation is beautifully conceived and rendered. The storyline is exciting, with some unexpected twists and lots of culturally relevant humor. The dialogue, is clever with lots of wackiness. ParaNorman may not be appropriate for young kids because the zombie segments could be scary. But that said, there's a lot in this film -- an exciting, fun adventure for kids, plus a generous helping of grown-up humor. Bring a kid if you must, but you don't really need one to enjoy ParaNorman.
4 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
Live people in Blithe Hollow think Norman's a freak, but Norman's the only one who can save the town from a rampage of zombies
Rated: PG (Violence)
Audience: Kids & Teens
Distribution: Mainstream wide release
Tempo: Zips right along
Visual Style: Animated/computer
Character Development: Engaging
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure entertainment
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You may also want to read about other animated features with adult appeal:
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Triplets of Belleville
A Cat in Paris