Rated: PG

Distributed By:

Focus Features

Directed by:

Sam Fell (The Tale of Despereaux) and Chris Butler

Starring:

Voices of Kodi Smit-McPhee as Norman; Tucker Albrizzi as Neil; Anna Kendrick as Courtney; Jodelle Ferland as Aggie; Casey Affleck as Mitch

Adapted From:

Plugged In Online

ParaNorman

Note: This review “spoils” more surprises than usual. If you don’t want to know what happens, stop reading. We can tell you the movie includes ghosts, magic, rotting zombies, an ancient curse, guy-girl issues, bullies, toilet humor and a negative portrayal of Christians.

Norman is a nice young boy who talks to dead people.

Unfortunately, boys who talk to the dead are about as popular as boys who talk to Cheetos. His parents don’t understand him. His sister, Courtney, thinks he’s hopelessly lame. And his classmates either bully or ignore him.

But Norman’s gift might save the town of Blithe Hollow. His undead uncle warns Norman of an ancient curse that will cause bodies to rise from the grave. Zombies everywhere!

Let’s start with the obvious: This movie is full of dead people. Ghosts, zombies and spell-casters roam across the screen. For the most part, they’re silly, not spooky, but younger viewers might get freaked out.

Strip the movie down to its bare bones, and you’ll find it’s more about “weird kids” than zombies. Norman struggles with bullies because he’s different. He meets Aggie, a ghost girl who also didn’t fit in with her neighbors . . . who happened to be witch-burning Puritans. Now she uses her mysterious powers to bring her dead neighbors back to life. In a twist, it’s the zombies who are tormented by humans. (Dead guys are the ultimate misfits.) Norman helps Aggie forgive others and finally rest in peace.

Norman’s and Aggie’s abilities aren’t attributed to dark magic or any demonic source. In fact, the film suggests that the only bad guys are “intolerant” religious believers. As Christians, we can either take this as an insult or a challenge. Jesus told us to love one another, even when we disagree.

Being different doesn’t excuse the gross gags and scary images in this movie. Zombies lose arms, ears and even a head in their battles with the living. Toilet humor abounds, including an explosive bathroom scene. Girls swoon over guys; guys swoon over girls . . . and guys. A few bad words sneak in and God’s name is misused.

ParaNorman has an important message for bullies and the bullied: Be kind to one another. Don’t let your anger consume you. Try to forgive.

But that message gets bogged down by a lot of inappropriate content. You don’t need braaaaains to see that.

Copyright © 2012 by Focus on the Family. Used by permission. Clubhousemagazine.com