PARANORMAN REVIEW (GRADE: B+)
By Jonathan Decker
Earning its place alongside such Halloween-ready classics as The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Corpse Bride, and Coraline, Focus Features’ new animated film ParaNorman boasts incredible design in its characters and locations, stunningly rendered using stop-motion animation. Indeed, it’s one of only a handful of films I’ve seen that is arguably worth seeing in 3D. This story of a boy who sees dead people and must save a town from a witch’s curse is great fun for those who enjoy this sort of thing, even if it’s not as clever or funny as it aims to be.
It even has a surprisingly moving climax, though that won’t be enough to win over those who dislike anything morbid or gothic. Tapping into the spirit of scary movies from the 80’s, ParaNorman is creepy and has some surprisingly adult humor, so I wouldn’t recommend it for small children. That said, if you have a taste for stop-motion and/or Halloween, this is for you.
CONTENT OVERVIEW: ParaNorman is rated PG. It features decomposing zombies and non-bloody moments of body parts falling off and a ghoul receiving a shotgun blast to the stomach. There are several intense, dark, and scary moments involving confrontations with ghosts, corpses, zombies, and a witch. There is some mild language. An eleven year old watches an R-rated type horror film: when his mother asks what he’s watching he replies “sex and violence” (though those elements aren’t shown). Another child pauses an aerobics DVD on a shot of a woman’s behind in spandex. A hooligan says he’d rather hide in an adult video store than in a library. A male teen answers the door in a bath towel; (SPOILER) he later tells a female teen that he has a boyfriend, implying that he is gay.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: It doesn’t help to be cruel to those who are cruel to us; we ought to offer peace instead of retaliation. Those who are different from us deserve our love and friendship, not our judgment and ridicule.
Jonathan Decker is the clinical director of Your Family Expert. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, husband, and father of five. Jonathan earned a masters degree in family therapy from Auburn University as well as a bachelor's degree in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University. He is an actor, author, and television personality.