Why can’t we all just get along? Well, for one reason, if we could, we wouldn’t have movies like ParaNorman to watch. It’s a story of a person labeled as “different” who makes a difference in his community. And as good and wholesome as that sounds, it’s also a movie full of ghosts, zombies, a number of other freaks and a witch’s 300-year-old curse — which means it’s full of fun.
Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a young kid who, unfortunately for him, sees dead people wherever he goes, and has taken a pasting for it at home, at school and all around the neighborhood. As his town prepares to celebrate its annual pageant depicting the judgment and execution of a witch who lived there centuries ago, Norman inherits the responsibility of keeping the witch’s curse at bay. But when he makes a mistake and the dead start to rise — namely the those who condemned the witch to her death — it’s up to Norman to find a way to end the curse.
Brought to life by the same people who made Coraline, ParaNorman features the voice talents of Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck and Jeff Garlin, among others, as it puts Norman, his uptight sister, his awkward new friend Neil and Neil’s older brother on a rollicking adventure to find a young girl’s grave. The visual effects occasionally rival those of Coraline, particularly when the stormy sky over the town contorts itself into the face of the witch.
But ParaNorman is, at its heart — and through and through, really — an anti-bullying parable designed to point out to its target audience that everybody on this planet is different and capable of different things, and that bullying is a product of fear and misunderstanding. It’s a worthwhile lesson, and maybe a bit preachy, but it’s told in such a charming way that few would mind. It moralizes, but it does so with a booger joke, never forgetting that its audience is there for the fun.
ParaNorman is available starting Nov. 27 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
Photo: © 2011 LAIKA, Inc./Focus Features, LLC. Courtesy of LAIKA, Inc.