Sometimes I think Hollywood should only be making kids’ movies. They usually show more moral compass and creativity than what passes for their adult fare. While grown-up Hollywood studio films are often insulting to the intelligence, one’s sense of right and wrong, as well as predictable, some of the kids’ movies can be quite refreshing, especially when viewed with a kid, or even a teenager.
ParaNorman is a great kids’ film, and it plays with some well-worn tropes. These horror movie cliches are rubbed thin in other contexts but here are reinvented and given enough of a twist to thrill children of all ages. We have zombies, witches, and yes, the very real historical record concerning mass hysteria, religious intolerance and persecution of scapegoats. In this case, the scapegoat is a young girl, who over the centuries has become a powerful witch from beyond the grave.
Enter Norman, who is a slight, frail boy bullied at school, hated on at home, and considered a freak by just about everyone. This loner has a unique “gift,” as in the Sixth Sense, he sees dead people. Norman not only sees dead people, but he’s the only human alive who can talk with them, communicate their concerns.
Everything goes to hell on the night the witch’s spell comes around, and something must be done. And guess who gets the honor of being the only person who can do anything about it? All pretty much an expected setup, but then the twists come. ParaNorman is funny and worth the experience. It has a strong central theme concerning reconciliation, peace and understanding. This is where kids’ movies shine, while Hollywood’s less mature “adult” aimed “entertainment product” devolves to torture-porn and superiority. Their “entertainment” ends with the biggest explosion, killing the irredeemable villain, by a “hero” who is not significantly any more moral than said villain.
I’ll take PARANORMAN, WALL-E, BATTLE FOR TERRA, IRON GIANT or A BUG’S LIFE any day over 95% of the live-action violence they’re peddling. Rent it for your kids, or see if it’s still playing at the second run theaters.