11-year-old Norman (Smit-McPhee) isn’t an ordinary boy – he can see dead people. A fan of zombie movies, he’s bullied at school for being weird, and it seems his only friends are the ghosts of the town’s dead he says hello to, and chubby kid Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), the one person who believes Norman’s ability is real. That all changes, however, when a musty old tramp (John Goodman) tells Norman he has to perform an important ritual to protect his town from a witch who was condemned there centuries before and who cast a curse on its residents. Of course, things don’t exactly go to plan and it’s not long before zombies and ghostly spirits are rising from their graves and a threatening cloud is forming in the sky. Uh oh…
A clever, comic, stop-motion animated adventure, ParaNorman looks fantastic (it’s made by the same animation studio as Coraline) and boasts some terrific slapstick moments as well as scares (do note this is aimed at older kids as there are some horror elements). It is quite slow early on, and a little heavy-handed about the subject of bullying, but once the action starts there’s fun to be had and some great characters to enjoy, including Norman’s cheerleading sister (Kendrick) and Neil’s lunkhead brother (Affleck).
There are creepy bits, too, that should delight older kids (and brave younger ones), while adults will enjoy the references to classic horror movies that are dotted about. A cute zombie tale if there is such a thing, perfect for kids who find Doctor Who a bit twee but aren’t ready for The Walking Dead just yet…
Is ParaNorman suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This movie is really aimed at children over the age of 8 and the animation style and ‘scary’ bits may be too much for younger viewers. Bear in mind this is a movie about the dead, undead, zombies and ghosts, horror themes that may disturb your child.
While there are no real moments that would make you jump, here are some of the scenes that may disturb younger or sensitive children:
Kids may be scared by the witch’s cloud over the town.
The protracted death of Prenderghast may upset younger kids, as may the scene when Norman finds his body and it falls on him.
The scene in the woods when the trees seem to come alive may also upset younger viewers.
The dead that come back to life are more funny than scary but may frighten young children at first.
The opening scene (in which we see the movie Norman is watching) may also be too scary for the under-8s.
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