Theatrical Release: 8/17/2012
Reviewer: Edwin L. Carpenter
Writer: Chris Butler
Producer: Travis Knight
Director: Chris Butler & Sam Fell
Runtime: 93 min.
MPAA Rating: PG
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee,
The new 3D stop-motion comedy thriller from animation company LAIKA, reteaming the company with Focus Features after the groundbreaking Academy Award-nominated "Coraline." "ParaNorman" is, following "Coraline," the company's second stop-motion animated feature to be made in 3D. In "ParaNorman," a small town comes under siege by zombies. Who can it call? Only misunderstood local boy Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee), who is able to speak with the dead. In addition to the zombies, he'll have to take on ghosts, witches and, worst, of all, grown-ups, to save his town from a centuries-old curse. But this young ghoul whisperer may find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.
I was disappointed in this one. I had hopes that it might be entertaining for both kids and adults in a fun Halloween kind of way, a spooky story with great animation and a happy ending as the kids triumphed over the evil forces they faced. Instead, I was appalled by all of the inappropriate content, and there is a lot of it in this film.
The story is strong with the occult such as a witch, ghosts, zombies, the rising dead, curses, witch's spells, etc. Although it is intended to be a fantasy kind of story these elements are non-stop in the film. A dad refers to his son's "Ouija" board "upstairs". We also learn that judges many years ago condemned a young girl to death for witchcraft and the girl replied that she was just "playing around". She has since haunted the people who live in the area to this day and cursed them (maybe she "really" was a witch?) At any rate, the judges have to be summoned back from the dead to apologize before the girl, "Aggie", is satisfied and can rest in peace.
The use of "Sweet baby J" is one line which, with other factors included in the content, doom the picture from receiving our Dove Seal. It is certain the term is not used in respect. In addition, the ghost of a hippie is clearly seen holding a lit marijuana cigarette and, along with the strong occult themes, a young male character named Mitch tells a girl that is interested in him that she would like his "boyfriend".
The content in this movie prevents us from awarding our Dove "Family-Approved" Seal to the picture. This is not a good one for the kids or parents. Sure, it has a few funny moments, but also contains behavior that will probably concern many of you.
Sex: Kid tells mother he was watching "sex and violence" on TV; a boy tells that his sister, a high school cheerleader, has a photo of a shirtless quarterback in her underwear drawer; a boy watches his mom's aerobics DVD and freeze frames on a scene which shows a woman in a bent position and showing her clothed rear; a billboard sign for a casino shows a woman showing cleavage with money stuffed in the cleavage; a comment about an adult video store across the street; a character named Mitch tells Courtney she would like his "boyfriend"; a male character slaps a girl in the rear and we see her reaction.
Language: "Sweet baby J"-1; G/OMG-2; H-1; When an adult tells a kid to swear to stop a witch's curse the kid asks, "Do you mean the F-word"? (The man did not mean that); The term "damnation" is used several times, referring to the loss of one's soul; A kid means to go "pssstt..." like he is whispering and it sounds like he says "pi*s"; Freaking-1; A kid is called "Dic*ula" as a play on
Dracula; Jacka*s-1; Slang for breasts (bo*bs)-3; Geez-1; Someone calls out, "You suck" during a play; A kid is called "fat" a few times; Dorks-1; Stupid-1
Violence: A lot of fantasy violence including people attacking zombies; and a detached hand grabbing people; a storm which looks like an evil face; a kid bumps a kid on purpose and he falls down; a character is hit in the head by a thrown apple; a thrown stick bounces and hits a character and knocks him down; an officer on a motorcycle slams into a car; characters use household items as weapons against zombies; a car crashes and flips but everyone is okay; a burning teddy bear is thrown at a house and it catches on fire; a corpse is accidentally banged around and dropped and it is played for humor.
Drugs: The ghost of a hippie is holding a marijuana cigarette which is lit; wine is seen in one scene; a woman holds a drink on billboard sign; a man is seen looking through his prescription pills.
Nudity: Shirtless character.
Other: The movie has occult images all the way through including a witch, ghosts, zombies, a boy who sees the dead and speaks to them and although much of it is done in a fantasy way it still is almost non-stop; a Ouija board is mentioned; talk of a witch's curse; a few jump scenes which included zombies; kid picks nose; on a TV show a human brain is seen and stepped on.