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ParaNorman Review

Movies.com Critics

4.5

Dave White Profile

Ghost World, with real ghosts. Read full review

4.0

Grae Drake Profile

Nothing mediocre about this medium. Read full review

Other Critics provided by Metacritic.com

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0
    72

    out of 100

    Metascore®
    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Michael Rechtshaffen

    ParaNorman is an amusing but only fitfully involving animated caper.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    This wryly funny take on the classic ghost story, with its tributes to horror thrillers from "Halloween" to "Friday the 13th" and rich cast of characters, has distinctive Tim Burton-esque visuals, and a welcome dearth of potty humor.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    The story may be thin, but the project, a feat of stop-motion animation, is made with generous care by the same impressive LAIKA studio artists who conjured up the gorgeous "Coraline."

    Read Full Review

  • See all ParaNorman reviews at Metacritic.com

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Pause for kids 9 & under

Cool-but-creepy monster flick is too scary for little kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that ParaNorman is, above all else, a monster movie, and it will scare little kids. It's animated (stop-motion), but it's full of ghosts, corpses, zombies, and witches and is aimed toward older kids and teens. There are chases, "jump" scenes, characters in peril, frightful zombies with body parts flapping and falling off, creepy houses with looming shadows (and, in the 3-D version, a swarm of bugs bursting out of a teddy bear straight at you), an angry mob with weapons, and much more. The language (lots of insults directed at Norman) and teen hormones (overt flirting and discussion of how "hot" a couple of teen characters are, as well as flashes of cleavage and a broad shirtless chest) are also more mature than in most animated movies for the younger set. There are also hurtful conflicts between parents and kids, some bullying takes place, and a character is revealed to be gay in a low-key way. While it has themes about tolerance and teamwork and could be a great pick for brave older tweens and middle-schoolers, this cool frightfest is very likely to be too much for younger moviegoers to handle.

  • Families can talk about how everyone can feel lonely and ignored at times, just like Norman. How does Norman change, and how does Neil teach him about the importance of friendship?
  • What audience do you think ParaNorman is intended for? Is it too scary for younger kids? What aspects of the movie make it more mature than the average animated flick?
  • How does Norman deal with bullying at school? Discuss the many ways kids can get bullied these days and what your children should do if they're experiencing it.

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: ParaNorman's themes include tolerance, understanding, unconditional friendship, bravery, and family support. Norman evolves from a lonely misfit who's bullied at school to a town hero by accepting not only his own selfless mission but acknowledging his need for help -- and helping others. Parents will also learn the importance of giving their children the benefit of the doubt and really listening to them instead of dismissing their ideas as just wacky or strange.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Norman doesn't have the best relationship with his parents, especially his father, who finds Norman's penchant for talking to the dead a sign of mental illness or adolescent angst. Neil and his brother, Mitch, are good friends to Norman; they get involved even when they don't have to and offer to help despite Norman's protests. Courtney starts off as a mean big sister but eventually cheers for and supports Norman on his mission. Norman himself is lonely and hesitant to ask for help at first but realizes he doesn't have to do everything by himself. Even the zombies are more sympathetic than they first appear to be.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: The movie has an overwhelmingly scary, dark, moody, tone that's set by Norman's interest in monster movies (the movie opens with an animated monster-movie scene that includes a person in peril being chased) and continued by his ability to talk to ghosts (including his grandma, which could be upsetting for some kids) and encounters with frightful-looking zombies. Many frightening scenes will scare younger viewers used to more benign animated movies. Some of the ghosts that Norman can speak to are shown with fatal injuries and/or obvious reasons for their deaths. A character dies on screen. Many scenes feature either a corpse (Norman has to "wrestle" with one in one gross sequence) or falling-apart zombies. The kids think they're going to be ripped apart by the monsters, who chase them in a long sequence that includes tense moments and some startling "jump" scenes. The witch's ghost is very loud and destructive and nearly kills Norman and his family; it also causes a very ominous/scary cloud and sets off hostile sparks and blasts of electric energy. The townsfolk become a bloodthirsty mob ready to use their weapons (including guns) on the witch, zombies, or anyone who appears to be aligned with them. Norman's great-uncle seems creepy and strange (and his house is even more so); his parents argue; a car crashes and rolls.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Courtney aggressively flirts with Mitch, whom she first bumps into while he's shirtless and wearing only a towel. From that moment on, she makes comments about how "hot" he is and tries to get him to reciprocate her come-ons. She wears a midriff-baring exercise suit that she zips down to show off her cleavage; she's also very curvy (as are other female characters). A butt-grabbing is implied; Norman mentions watching "sex and violence" on TV early in the movie.

  • language false2

    Language: Insults like "freak," "stupid," "crazy," "loser," "ghost boy," "freakshow," "fatty," and more are used fairly frequently against Norman and his friend. Norman says "the F-word" (referring to a swear word, but not actually saying it). A (dead) grandmother calls her son "jackass." Courtney makes very authentic sounding "mean girl" comments like: "I really like her a lot, but she's a complete loser." Also "darn it," "damnation," "sucks," "boobs," "OMG," "Jesus" (as part of an exclamation), "weiner," and "hell."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Norman's great-uncle takes unexplained pills.

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