Despite the incredible amount of time and effort that goes into its creation, stop-motion animation is often dismissed as being for children. From Aardman Studios classics to the gentle scares of The Nightmare Before Christmas, its a charming medium that rarely offers a lot of depth.
ParaNorman, at first glance, looked like just another cute kids' film. Maybe it would be a bit creepy since monsters are involved, but it still seemed like a fun, goofy flick. Its unlikely viewers anticipated how much and how well it would address heavy emotional themes, exploring the complexity of human nature without talking down to kids.
ParaNorman is reminiscent of Monster Squad, with its band of cliched characters fighting monsters with crude humor. Theres certainly a lot of inspiration taken from movies like The Goonies as well. You have the jock, the bully, the popular girl, and the food-loving comic relief.
But while the characters lean into the funnier aspects of their stereotypes, they all serve important roles and are all well-rounded, more like actual people than walking cardboard cutouts. Norman, in particular, is an easy hero to root for. Hes bullied because of his ability to see the dead, but he accepts himself. Despite the ostracization, Norman never appears upset by his medium abilities.
Being dead is no excuse to not be a good influence.Focus Features
The movie never gets to a point where Norman expresses a desire to be rid of his powers. Instead, he genuinely enjoys talking to ghosts. Not only does he still communicate with his dead grandmother, who understands him in a way the living dont, but his deceased acquaintances interest him more than the living ones.
Norman is comfortable with himself, but everyone else has a problem with him. You feel for this kid who cant be comfortable in the presence of another living person; even his own family is scared and frustrated by him. When his classmate, Neil, reaches out to him, you can see Norman is apprehensive. This is a kid whos been burned so many times that he doesnt feel he can accept someones friendship, even when its openly offered.
ParaNorman has brains on its mind in more ways than one.Focus Features
Normans hometown puts significant stock in its history, especially a lurid 17th-century horror story of an evil witch who curses the town after being shunned and executed for her nefarious ways. The twist ParaNorman reveals is a gut punch: Not only is the witch innocent, but she was just a child medium who was murdered because people feared her.
Its heartbreaking when little Aggies spirit tells Norman about being ripped away from her mother. Aggie may have done awful things in her afterlife, but shes still just a child who perished scared and alone.
One of ParaNormans major themes is fear, and what it can do to people if they let it take over and harm those they dont understand. Back in the 1600s, the fear of a little girl with strange abilities made a town turn against her. Normans fellow medium, Uncle Penderghast, was forced to live his life as a recluse and an outcast. And when a horde of zombies is unleashed on the town, an angry mob becomes so terrified theyre ready to blame and murder an 11-year-old boy just because hes the town weirdo.
ParaNormans characters have depth beyond the stereotypes theyre introduced as.Focus Features
Even the zombies are only scary on the surface. In reality, theyre repentant and regretful for what they did in life, and are now lost and confused creatures who long to be released from their curse. Said curse only exists because poor Aggies ghost has been scared and alone for so long that she takes her frustration out on an entire town. Its heavy subject matter for kids, but its presentation makes it easy to understand and digest.
ParaNorman accomplishes a films most important job it makes you care. Not just about its hero or the good guys, but all of its characters, even the ones you thought were stock villains. By the end of the movie, you realize there are no clear-cut bad guys here, just complicated people who reacted badly when presented with frightening situations. Its a mature look into the complexity of everyday people, and its all thanks to some gorgeous animation.
LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY.
- Scientists Revive 'Zombie' Virus After 50000 Years Trapped in Siberian Permafrost - Common Dreams - November 27th, 2022
- Stop with the Madbomb, youre doing Civil War: Captain America 3 Was Initially Conceived to Be a Terrifying Zombie Thriller Testing Chris Evans Limits... - November 27th, 2022
- THE MUNSTERS: Rob Zombie Returns To Spook Audiences This Halloween - Film Inquiry - October 11th, 2022
- The Loneliest Boy in the World Review: Brainless Zombie Comedy Features Too Many Elbows to the Ribs - TheWrap - October 11th, 2022
- There were few brave enough to join 6th annual Zombie Run - Wadena Pioneer Journal - October 11th, 2022
- New study: Massachusetts would have 4.4 million zombies in apocalypse - Wicked Local - October 11th, 2022
- Zombie Captain America Takes A Bite Out of Crime with shopDisney - Bleeding Cool News - October 11th, 2022
- Silver Spring Zombie Walk Returns Oct. 29 - Source of the Spring - October 11th, 2022
- Kanye West hits back at Gigi Hadid, calls her a 'privileged Karen' and 'zombie' - Page Six - October 11th, 2022
- Did You Spot the Freddy Krueger Zombie On "The Walking Dead" This Past Sunday? [Image] - Bloody Disgusting - October 11th, 2022
- Members of JUDAS PRIEST, GUNS N' ROSES, WHITE ZOMBIE, THE CULT And More Donate Iconic Items to KITTEN ... - Metal Injection - October 11th, 2022
- This weekend in Anchorage: Zombie Half Marathon runs scared and Make It Alaskan Festival returns - Anchorage Daily News - October 11th, 2022
- Terrifying Rabid Zombie Coyote Attempts To Kick In Glass Window Of Someone's Home - Whiskey Riff - October 11th, 2022
- How a zombie apocalypse is informing a new wave of Dem ads - POLITICO - September 24th, 2022
- Get ready for the zombie apocalypse | UNC-Chapel Hill - The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - September 24th, 2022
- 'An Army of Zombies Is Leading Us to Hell': A Russian Who Fled Putin's Draft Speaks Out - The Atlantic - September 24th, 2022
- Geneva High School theater to show '10 Ways to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse!' - Daily Herald - September 24th, 2022
- Zombie Wasp Pictured After Parasitic Fungi Took Over Its Body - Newsweek - September 24th, 2022
- An Malnourished Zombie Horror Tears Strips off the Streaming Ranks - We Got This Covered - September 24th, 2022
- You Can Get A Whole Daycare Of Zombie Babies Just In Time For Halloween - Totally The Bomb - September 24th, 2022
- Halloween invasion of Newquay by zombies will thrill and scare you - Cornwall Live - September 24th, 2022
- Chucky To Become A Zombie? - Giant Freakin Robot - September 24th, 2022
- TGS 2022: Hands-On with KEMCO's Upcoming Horror RPG 'Zombie of the Dot' TouchArcade - Touch Arcade - September 24th, 2022
- 'The Munsters': Rob Zombie on Giving Fans the Prequel They've Been Waiting For - Blue Mountain Eagle - September 24th, 2022
- Covers Uncovered - Nick Percival's Zombie Dredd Takes The Throne For Megazine 448 | 2000 AD - 2000 AD - September 24th, 2022
- The Walking Dead's New Smart Zombies Are Rooted in the Show's First Episodes - ComicBook.com - September 24th, 2022
- Robots, NatCons, and the Zombie Apocalypse - The Bulwark - September 24th, 2022
- Zombie horror-comedy The Loneliest Boy in the World gets a trailer and poster - Flickering Myth - September 24th, 2022
- The story of how Zombie Nation became a Welsh techno anthem - Nation.Cymru - September 24th, 2022
- Visiting This Secluded Zombie Town In Texas Is One You Will Enjoy - klaq.com - September 24th, 2022
- Most bizarre September 24 Doomsday conspiracy theories from aliens & zombies to WWIII after eerie solar... - The US Sun - September 24th, 2022
- Do you have 'zombie trees' in your yard? Here's how to spot them - Fox Weather - September 16th, 2022
- A Zombie Idea: Saving Agricultural Water Through Technology - The Paper. - September 16th, 2022
- The Beatles' 'Helter Skelter': Why Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson Covered the Song Together - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - September 16th, 2022
- Drop Dead: The Cabin CoD: Zombies Meets Stranger Things - UploadVR - September 16th, 2022
- Sitges Fanpitch Sets The Hour of the Sorcerer, Zombie Meteor, Bloody Mary (EXCLUSIVE) - Variety - September 16th, 2022
- Collected Is This A Zombie? Blu-ray Released Monday - Anime News Network - September 16th, 2022
- Dreamy popsicle cocktails are having a moment in the Bay Area - San Francisco Chronicle - September 16th, 2022
- The Office's Dunder Mifflin is Recreated in The Last of Us Part 1 Remake - Esquire - September 16th, 2022
- Pedro Snchez only lacks the zombies, but what would they be like? - Gearrice - September 16th, 2022
- The Asbury Park Zombie Walk 2022 is here! - 94.5 PST - September 8th, 2022
- Glaciers and "zombie ice": The planet is melting at both ends, research finds - Salon - September 8th, 2022
- Zombies are coming - The Brewton Standard - Brewton Standard - September 8th, 2022
- Commentary: September is the time to prepare for the 'zombie apocalypse' - Standard-Examiner - September 8th, 2022
- Top 5 Zombie Games to Survive in this September 2022 - ClutchPoints - September 8th, 2022
- No zombie zone: Forest Service orders removal of reported film set in Green Canyon that went too far - The Herald Journal - September 8th, 2022
- Everyone loves a good zombie, apparently | What the Heckle? - Colorado Springs Gazette - September 8th, 2022
- 'Sins of Our Mother': Lori Vallow Claimed Her Children Had Turned Into 'Zombies' Before Their Disappearance - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - September 8th, 2022
- Zoinks! The 10 Best 'Scooby-Doo' Films, From 'Monsters Unleashed' to 'Zombie Island' - Variety - September 8th, 2022
- 13 Great Funny Movies About Vampires, Zombies, And Other Classic Monsters - CinemaBlend - September 8th, 2022
- The Munsters: This Rock Legend Is Making An Unexpected Cameo in Rob Zombies Prequel - Dread Central - September 8th, 2022
- Light House Studio's Youth Film Festival covers everything from A to zombies - The Daily Progress - September 8th, 2022
- The Greatest Zombie Movie Of All Time Is Streaming For Free - Giant Freakin Robot - August 22nd, 2022
- TV, Interrupted: Post-Zombie Apocalypse Series In The Flesh Was Buried Too Soon - /Film - August 22nd, 2022
- 'Tales of the Walking Dead' Season One, Episode Two Recap - Vulture - August 22nd, 2022
- 'Zombie fungus' bursts out of a dead fly in contest-winning photo - Livescience.com - August 22nd, 2022
- Sally Phillips: How would I survive a zombie attack? Get another puppy - The Guardian - August 22nd, 2022
- Apocalypse arrives for the 'zombie' companies haunting UK growth - The Telegraph - August 22nd, 2022
- 60 Songs That Explain the 90s: The Cranberries, Zombie - The Ringer - August 22nd, 2022
- Did Congress just warn of a zombie attack? No, that video is fake, and satirical - PolitiFact - August 22nd, 2022
- ZOMBIE PROPERTY COUNT INCHES UP AGAIN IN THIRD QUARTER OF 2022 ACROSS U.S. AMID CONTINUED RISE IN FORECLOSURE ACTIVITY - PR Newswire - August 22nd, 2022
- I wore a metaverse suit into a terrifying Zombie VR world Im still haunted by it... - The US Sun - August 22nd, 2022
- Dungeon Munchies is an RPG platformer where you're a zombie, and worse, an unpaid intern - PC Gamer - August 22nd, 2022
- Insiders tell of 'zombie government' as Johnson lives it up in Greece on holiday - The National - August 22nd, 2022
- Zombie Infection Simulation - The Original - kevan - August 14th, 2022
- Tales of the Walking Dead an anthology of zombie apocalypse survivor tales - Boston Herald - August 14th, 2022
- The Walking Dead Season 11 Part 3 Will Finally Address Series Smart Zombies - Game Revolution - August 14th, 2022
- James Gunn Reminds Fan That He Already Made a Zombie Movie - We Got This Covered - August 14th, 2022
- Review: A zombie movie in vampire's clothing, Netflix's Day Shift is a nightmare - The Globe and Mail - August 14th, 2022
- How The Thames, Once a 'Zombie River,' Was Brought Back to Life - Atlas Obscura - August 14th, 2022
- The Future of 'The Walking Dead' Universe Will Be Characterized By a New Zombie Variant - Pajiba Entertainment News - August 14th, 2022
- Inside the abandoned 'zombie like' cottage left untouched since a heartbreaking tragedy - The Mirror - August 14th, 2022
- Time traveller from 2906 claims world will face a plague of zombie pigs later this year - Daily Star - August 14th, 2022
- Tearful Martin Lewis slams 'zombie' Government for crisis as bad as pandemic - Wales Online - August 14th, 2022
- Lauren Boebert talks monkeypox and "zombie Reagan" on BlazeTV - Salon - August 6th, 2022
- The Zombie of Recession Died Today - TheStranger.com - August 6th, 2022
- Nonstop Action Drives Korean Zombie Thriller Carter to Badass Heights - Paste Magazine - August 6th, 2022
- LifeAfter: Sea of Zombie launches next week, taking players on a new adventure in search of the Pureland - Pocket Gamer - August 6th, 2022
- As We Know It: Everything We Know So Far About The Nuclear Zombie Apocalypse Movie - /Film - August 6th, 2022
- Steve Vai reveals the pedals he couldn't live without, zombie apocalypse or no zombie apocalypse - MusicRadar - August 6th, 2022
Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero