There are few things I love more than animated movies and zombies. Luckily for me, ParaNorman mixes both of them into a fun adventure that both kids and adults will enjoy.
The movie revolves around a boy named Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee ) who has a special gift; he sees dead people. Yes, we’ve heard this story before with The Sixth Sense, but there are definitely some differences. (POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD).
Norman lives in a small New England town named Blithe Hollow that is famous for its witch execution (I’m thinking this town was model after Salem, Massachusetts). There’s a sign that says “Weclome to Blithe Hollow: a great place to hang” with a witch hanging by a noose waving at you. I thought it was pretty clever and cheeky, but it might have been a little much for kids. Norman’s family doesn’t quite get his talent, especially his father Perry (Jeff Garlin) who just wishes he would act normal. His mother, Sandra (Leslie Mann), thinks it’s part of the grieving process over the loss of Norman’s Grandmother.
Courtney (Anna Kendrick), his sister, picks on Norman and so does the rest of the school, especially the bully Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse ). His only friend, Neil (Tucker Albrizzi ) thinks Norman’s gift is cool and even uses it to play with his deceased dog. While the two boys are walking home from school, they run into Mr. Prenderghast (John Goodman) who tells Norman that he has to embrace his gift in order to save the town from the curse of the witch. This crazy guy also happens to be Norman’s uncle.
Mr. Prenderghast eventually dies and seeks out Norman to explain to him that it’s his responsibility to keep the witch asleep or the dead will rise. He also says that Norman must read from the book located in Mr. Prenderghast ’s hands (not his ghost hands, but his dead human hands) to keep the witch’s spirit asleep. Norman has to read at the place she was buried before sundown.
When Norman travels to his uncle’s abandoned house to retrieve the book, he has a bit of a tough time wrestling with Prednderghast’s dead body to get the book. He then makes his way to the cemetery where the victims of the witch’s curse are buried (and he assumes she’s buried there, too). Alvin follows Norman there and steals the book from him. What Alvin doesn’t realize is that he has just helped raise the dead because his game of keep away.
From here, Norman must find a way to get the dead to rest once again and end the witch’s curse. The star-studded cast also includes Casey Affleck, Tempestt Bledsoe and Alex Borstein. This movie is one that the whole family can enjoy. Though the topic of zombies and talking to dead people doesn’t seem like it would work (or be appropriate) for a kid’s movie, it’s actually done very well. Paranorman is not too scary for a younger audience and has enough adult humor to keep the grown-ups interested. If you’re looking for a movie that the whole family can enjoy, you’ve found one in ParaNorman.
Written by: Katie Sperduti