ParaNorman

Release Date: August 17, 2012

It's all fun and games until someone gets rabies.

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Position Staff In Brief
108/169 Max Braden Great visual style, but I was just bored... to death. The ending is pretty dark too for a kid-friendly movie.

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Remember kids, it’s okay to be different - a community needs everyone and it’s our differences that make us stronger. So goes the message behind ParaNorman, Focus Features’ peculiar attempt to capitalize on the Family Film and Zombie Apocalypse gravy trains simultaneously. Equality is an amusing notion coming from a film that’s apparently going to utilize the Fat Sidekick for cheap laughs...but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Norman Babcock is a sullen pre-teen who is obsessed with zombies. He’s also at odds with his bewildered parents, who can’t seem to understand how their seven-year-old turned out weird after they’ve decked out his room like the Crypt Keeper’s guest suite. Norman’s best friend Neil (the aforementioned mass-challenged character) is the only one who understands him, by virtue of being equally weird.

One day Norman discovers that he has the ability to see the dead in all their decayed, morbid glory. Presumably, children everywhere will find this amusing. Shortly thereafter, and with the help of an insane homeless person, Norman uncovers an ancient curse that threatens to destroy the town. Since the one exact thing that can stop it happens to be a seven-year-old boy who can see ghosts and his porky sidekick, it’s up to Norman and Neil to save the day.

Presumably, parents everywhere will find THAT amusing.

Obviously, this movie is meant to be funny. And I’m sure it’s (at least ostensibly) meant to be a half-hearted attempt to encourage kids to value everyone while their minds are nice and pliable. Maybe it’s just trying to open your eyes as to how valuable comically eccentric children with big clay heads can be. That’s all fine with me. Besides, the fine people over at Focus have to feed their families, right? So I sincerely wish this movie well.

But as I watch the trailer for ParaNorman all I can think about is how much I don’t want the kids in MY life to see this movie. I just have a hard time seeing how shuffling hordes of drooling undead attacking a small town - no matter how slapstick - is kid-friendly entertainment. It certainly wouldn’t make for an easy bedtime in my neck of the woods. I can’t help but wonder whether the subject matter is appropriate for the intended audience of preteens who still giggle at SpongeBob SquarePants.

Time may prove me wrong but as I write this, ParaNorman is not scheduled anywhere near Halloween, where it might have a shot at some easy business – and where it also might feel a little more appropriate. I’m tempted to predict this movie is going to please no one, but at my day job I’ve learned not to make predictions. Let’s just say that you’re either the kind of family that will be into this, or you’re not. How many of you are out there will determine what happens to ParaNorman. (Bruce Hall/BOP)




Vital statistics for ParaNorman
Main Cast Kodi Smit-McPhee, Casey Affleck
Supporting Cast Tempestt Bledsoe, Alex Borstein, Jodelle Ferland, John Goodman, Bernard Hill, Anna Kendrick, Leslie Mann, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Elaine Stritch
Director Sam Fell, Chris Butler
Screenwriter Chris Butler
Distributor Focus Features
Rating PG
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture


     


 
 

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