Rated: PG for scary action and images, thematic elements, some rude humor and language. Reviewed by: Frank Release date: August 17, 2012 Released by: Focus Features
Paranorman is based on traditional Salem witchcraft horror films with a smart nerdy kid named Norman, who can see dead people finding himself in a position to save the community from a witch out of the past. This might have made a solid Halloween release.
Norman voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee is a delightful character who thinks rather than reacting to the haunting facing his family and friends. His home is in a rundown part of town with sneakers on a wire and houses that need paint. He is pushed around at school by bullies like Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who knock him down and paint insults on his locker. He could have become a male Carrie but his temperament is bent toward solutions.
Norman learns the origination of the ghosts which reaches back to the hanging of an accused little girl who was condemned by the town elders as a witch. We see her as a frightened little girl and a powerful returning witch out for revenge on the town that took her life. While Norman, his friend chubby Neil and their families are what we expect in an animated feature, the idea of a little girl being put to death is a serious stretch that probably will be difficult for children to accept.
The monster ghosts made up of the city council members who condemned the girl are wandering, held from final rest by their action, and the little girl is out to find dark revenge against them. It is the anniversary for the dead to rise and for the witch to complete the curse. Norman must stop the curse and save Blight Hollow.
The climax works well with Norman holding back the Frankenstein style crowd and working to bring peace to the witch who at heart is a little girl. But the over atmosphere is a bit dark for kids and the destruction of a kid is hard to take in what appears to be a silly comic animated film for children.
Kids who are over ten and adults who enjoy good animation and fantasy will enjoy Norman but hold off on the little ones.