by A. Zombie
Rated: PG (scary action and images, thematic elements, some rude humor and language)
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick and Christopher Mintz-Plasse
They let me out of the Zombie Survival Crew command center. Freedom! Well, not really. I was bound in chains and hidden in the back row at an undisclosed movie theater to watch Paranorman. I should have known they’d only let me out to work. Admittedly, though the movie is for young, delicious children, I did thoroughly enjoy it.
Paranorman is centered on Norman, a quiet outcast who has a very strange ability—he talks to ghosts. In his quest to remain on the fringe of society in order to not draw attention from bullies, Norman is dragged further into the weirdness that surrounds his life. His crazy uncle tracks him down and passes on a family legacy tied to his talent with the paranormal. Norman must take a book and read it at a certain location to keep a three-hundred year old witch’s ghost from hatching her curse, a curse that would unleash a band of zombies on Norman’s small home town. Except Norman runs out of time and the zombies crawl out of their graves, seeking and end to the curse.
The film opens with Norman watching a bad zombie movie with his grandmother. Within the first few minutes, both adults and children were giggling at the screen. You can’t help yourself. The humor is done in levels, entertaining the target audience and the folks forced to go with said audience.
I should note that I saw the film in 2D. 3D glasses don’t work well if you’re missing an ear. Even without the bells and whistles, the artistic talent put into the creation of the stop-motion puppets was astounding. Each of the characters, major or background, were fully detailed—down to the stitching on Norman’s mother’s ugly-as-sin “mom jeans”. The zombies were very well realized. Not too graphic so as to not terrify the children, but still pretty banged up and decayed. One can only hope to look that good after three hundred years in a pine box.
Portions of the story seem contrived to push Norman to reach certain decisions. He makes a leap in logic that left me scratching a hole in my scalp before being reminded that kids don’t have the patience to wait for a character to learn certain lessons. They’d rather see the outcome of the lesson than the learning. Doesn’t mean the filmmakers left out important moral lessons about bullying, anger management, and tolerance, though. One off-hand reveal at the end should be applauded. You’ll know it when you see it.
Overall, Paranorman is a great movie to introduce children to zombies, especially those that can’t handle overly scary things. There is an ample amount of humor laced with traditional horror elements to act as a buffer. A huge bonus is that filmmakers throw in a lot of old horror movie references for adults.
I give Paranorman four dismembered feet out of five. It is undead fun for the entire family.