Like Tim Burton’s (Alice in Wonderland) animated works, more geared toward adults than children, there’s a wonderfully relevant message tucked inside this film. But ParaNorman is much, much too scary and disturbing for the younger set (see Cautions below). For the person who appreciates a protagonist that’s delightfully left of center and a funny, moving storyline where the undead are part of everyday life, however, ParaNorman is a clever, well-constructed and imaginative movie where outcasts and zombies rule the day.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: None. Norman’s uncle takes quite a few prescription drugs for his health’s sake but doesn’t abuse them.
  • Language/Profanity: God’s name is taken in vain on three occasions, plus a single use of as- and pis---. There’s also some rude scatological humor sprinkled throughout.
  • Sex/Nudity: None, just some mild innuendo when a character pauses his Mom’s exercise tape to admire the aerobic leader’s backside. There’s also a billboard featuring a rather cleavage-y witch. Norman informs his parents that Courtney has pictures of a quarterback in her underwear drawer. When watching a movie, Norman says he’s watching “sex and violence.” A guy Courtney has a major crush on turns out to be gay. An adult video store is mentioned.
  • Violence: Given that many of the residents of Blithe Hollow are rotting away, they are regularly “losing” their body parts, with everything from arms to heads to teeth flying off. Most of this is played for laughs, but some of the gorier zombies could frighten younger children. In order to “kill” the zombies for good, the townspeople try every possible method including some that involve makeshift weapons and burning down City Hall. Aggie is a particularly scary character, thanks to her “powers,” and Norman almost faces her wrath when wooden thorns emerge from the ground and nearly impale the poor kid. A collection of creepy trees are rather ominous throughout. A corpse falls on Norman. A zombie movie that Norman is watching features a zombie attacking a woman.
  • Religion/Worldview: None of the film’s “magical” content is meant to be taken very seriously, but it could still be scary and/or confusing for a younger audience with all those dead people roaming around. Norman is a young kid who regularly interacts with the dead, and according to Norman, not everyone who dies actually becomes a ghost after death. He says if they have work left to do or died suddenly, they will become a ghost. The film’s scarier moments involve a rather vengeful witch (Aggie). Because she’s always been “different” and was wrongly judged by her community for “doing the devil’s work” even though she wasn’t, Aggie punishes countless dead people by having them re-emerge as misunderstood zombies.

Publication date: August 17, 2012