As the school season begins, we’ll be counting down a variety of back-to-school movies. This week: the delightfully ghoulish family film ParaNorman.
When I was a kid, I always felt like most of the movies aimed at my age group were a little too tame. Sure, I adored Disney’s annual animated musicals — but where were the kid-friendly chills I could get out of older movies, like The Wizard of Oz or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?
I would have been very happy if I’d had ParaNorman.
ParaNorman's basic concept recalls The Sixth Sense, with one clever twist: the ghosts that Norman can see are a lot more harmless and likable than the regular people he encounters every day. But ParaNorman doesn’t stop at ghosts: as his sleepy Massachusetts town is invaded by zombies and witches, Norman steps up to protect the people who have always looked down on him.
ParaNorman offers a cheeky, family-friendly riff on the horror genre, with loving winks to genre classics like Halloween and Friday the 13. The voice cast is packed with talented actors, including John Goodman, Anna Kendrick, and the late Elaine Stritch. And the entire film is rendered in stunning stop-motion animation.
ParaNorman's gorgeous, painstakingly rendered animation is an accomplishment in itself, and the distinctive art design would probably be enough to recommend the film on its own. But the effect of the aesthetics is boosted by a sweet, soulful story that will make any kid who's felt like an outcast feel a little less alone.
Your weekly streaming recommendation: ParaNorman