Iffy for 9+
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
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.
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: 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: 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: 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: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Norman's great-uncle takes unexplained pills.
Fan Reviews provided by
Amazing message! by bookreader876
I was wary about taking my seven year old cousin to see this due to what some reviews have lead me to believe, but I'm very happy I did. Paranorman's story isn't about the zombies or the witches?it's about being different, and how that's okay.
It infuriates me that the same people who said how wonderful this was, teaching kids about how they should accept others for who they are, also complained about a character revealing he is gay in a one-liner at the end. Isn't that the entire point of the movie? He's gay, and that's who he is?people should accept that.
Kids are more impressionable, and if they learn that being gay is fine at a young age they'll group up confident in their own sexuality rather than feel pressured into heteronormality. So it's amazing that this movie, a children's movie, treated someone's homosexuality so casually. Because that's how it should be, and this movie tells you that you're wonderful how you are and never let anyone tell you otherwise.
ParaNorman-Cute but too many adult references by familymoviewatcherzzz
loved story, and actually cried a bit at the end when they were talking about forgiving the people who hurt her. good lessons about friendship, not judging, and forgiveness being good for yourself to move on. Liked animation and the characters had great personalities. What I did not like, was all of the adult referencing. I took my 10 year old son and 2 of his friends and certain parts made all of us very uncomfortable. Some are: When Normans friend was watching his moms exercise video and had the screen paused on a close up of a womans behind (very inappropriate!), In town there was and adult book store, a restaurant called itchy weiners, and a place called something Trim which could have been a massage parlor. also the friends older brother saying something about his boyfriend at the end. Nothing against being gay,but I have not had any sex talk with my son yet, about heterosexual or homosexual. Not the time I wanted to be questioned by him and friends! Not expected in a kid movie
Not PG by kws5
I am very surprised that this is a PG movie. The young kid tells his mom he is watching sex and murder movie! All through out the movie they use words that are NOT appropriate for PG and to top it off at the end one of the guys tell the girl she should meet his boyfriend! Seriously, PG? Should have been rated PG13. All the kids that went and saw it were 12, 11, 10 , 8 and 7. The movie over all was good, but NOT a PG. Kids enjoyed it but were asking questions that really should not be even a thought right now.
Not for lil children but more for tweens/teens by lmortiz4
Cute movie. It was entertaining and had a message of acceptance. Definitely recommend to families. There are some jokes that tweens may catch on to but not the little kiddos.
My almost 4 year old liked it by kuhriztuh
Admittedly she was a little young for this movie... but my almost 4 year old daughter liked it, and I could sit through it without having to zone it out. Overall worth going if just to get out and 'do something', but I don't see it becoming anyone's favorite movie.
Terrifying for kids! by terrapin13
From the trailier and commercials it looked like a cute movie with zombies. The whole premise of this movie is disturbing. We took our 7 and 12 year old to the movie. Many other parents there with kids. Several left during the movie. Our 7 year old was terrified - held my hand over his eyes for most of the movie. Even our 12 year old was a little spooked by some of the scenes. Be warned this is not a kid movie!
Great Animated Movie by janayasd
I saw this movie with my husband, and two kids ages 6, and 10. The movie was great it was full of witty humor, and had some sad twists. I did not see any parts in the movie that were anymore frightening then you would see in a nightmare before Christmas type of movie. The animation was really good. As far as the "gay" reference it is only about five seconds long at the very end and it is a comment made by one of the characters. Most kids would probably not even get it. My whole family loved this movie.
Be prepared by fulo30
My family and I went to see this movie; wife and the two little ones ages 7 and 5. I was bit disappointed; however, not a bad movie just fell far short of my expectation. The movie was not targeted for 10 years old and under. Several of the subjects or contents of the movie had a tendency to wonder a little more ino the dark side for the kids. Several of the humor came quickly so be prepared!!! Seem it was targeted for an older crowd; for example, when the ? teenage girl asks teenage boy to be his girlfriend, only to be decline to saying he has boyfriend already that he?s been dating:?
For Older Children by Mehlsky
Just because ParaNorman is an animated film, it is NOT for the younger set. It is filled with ghostly characters and creepy situations which would terrify small kids. Take your 9 or 10 year old and expect a delightful story, but leave the little ones at home with a sitter.
ParaNorman by kzerkel
Very cute movie. I took my 6 year old. There were a few scary parts for her, but other than that she liked it. Good for adults too.