By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
The new claymation comedy “ParaNorman” is a parable masquerading as a kids’ movie.
Nobody understands Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a kid whose hair stands straight up as though he’s always scared. But he’s not scared. He’s obsessed with zombies, ghosts and ghouls, and he’s comfortable with things that would cause others to wet their britches and run screaming out of town.
Norman sees dead people, but his parents, his sister and the kids at school don’t believe him. That’s left him alone and miserable. He even tries to reject another picked-on kid, Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), who wants to become friends.
The audience knows Norman really can see dead people, and so does Norman’s crazy Uncle Prenderghast (John Goodman). The uncle makes Norman promise to use his ability to talk to ghosts in order to save the town from a monstrous fate.
When zombies climb out of their graves, Norman picks up an unlikely team of helpers, including his sister (Anna Kendrick) and a bully (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).
They join Neil and Neil’s brother (Casey Affleck) in a quest to stop an evil witch from wreaking a terrible revenge on the town. Something horrible happened hundreds of years ago, and Norman and his friends are in the middle of it.
There are funny moments in “ParaNorman,” often involving stray zombie body parts. The film is loaded with good-natured, ghoulish charm, and it’s good to get caught up in an old-fashioned claymation story.
There’s also a lesson at the heart of the movie, and it’s pretty hard to miss. Bullying is a hot topic these days, and “ParaNorman” expands the discussion to go beyond school walls and into the adult world. “ParaNorman” doesn’t feel preachy, but the filmmakers aren’t shy about making their point, then making it again.
My 10-year-old daughter didn’t seem to mind the lesson. She gives “ParaNorman” a B plus.
I give it a B.
It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.
Kelli Karlson Wizard 106.7. She gives “ParaNorman” a B. I liked it. I didn’t love it. I had a pretty good time.