Suspension of Disbelief

Suspension of Disbelief: ParaNorman

Not going to lie – I went to see this movie thinking it was Tim Burton’s new movie, Franknweenie. It wasn’t until it actually started that I realized I was seeing something completely different. I assume the Tim Burton movie would have been more interesting and fun to watch as a young adult, but ParaNorman was good for a kid’s flick and definitely entertained.

Title: ParaNorman
Director: Chris Butler and Sam Fell
Actors: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick and Christopher Mintz-Plasse

The movie is about a kid named Norman who can see ghosts. Everyone thinks he is a weirdo because he is constantly talking to the ghosts that no one else can see. The kids at school bully him and his parents don’t understand him. He’s also super obsessed with zombies and other paranormal creatures. It turns out that the legendary witch’s curse on the town is true and he is the only person who can stop it. You can probably take a pretty good guess as to whether he succeeded or not.


The bully theme was real thick in this one. Norman got bullied at school, Norman confronts the witch and tells her she’s a bully and the overall empowerment over bullies is really there. This is good since bullying is such a problem with kids these days.

Also really good – There is this super strong, masculine and attractive guy that Norman’s sister totally fawns over through the whole movie. He seems relatively clueless to her advances but at the end of the movie she finally asks him to go see a movie with her and his response is “Sure! I can’t wait for you to meet my boyfriend!” It was such a nice thing to see one of the strongest and coolest characters in the movie just be openly gay and for it not to be a big deal. So awesome.

I don’t know if this is a pro or not – but it was freaking scary! The little girl behind me screamed twice, I heard a little boy say to his mom “mommy I’m scared…” and one other little girl asked her mom if they could stop watching. It was really really scary (for a kids show). I can’t find a shot online of the witch but she is this little girl that floats in the air and is all glowy and electrified and she isn’t really in focus and her eyes are all wide and bulge out and she really really tried to kill Norman. It was a little terrifying.

I liked that the zombies weren’t what you expected and the solution to the story isn’t exactly what it seems to be. Norman has to solve the mystery by himself rather than just following what his uncle told him to do to make the problem go away. Norman has to be a critical thinker and really look at the picture as a whole. He is a smart kid who figures out how to save the town, the zombies and the witch using his smarts.

I’m a big fan of horror movies and this one really touched on some of the great things to come out of 70’s and 80’s horror, but in a style for kids. It was also really dark, but again…in a kid friendly way.


Norman’s best friend is a fat kid named Niel. Niel likes to eat, gets teased for being fat, is humorous because he’s fat and is quite stupid. I am really sick of the fat, dumb, clumsy sidekick gig. Fat shouldn’t be shown has being lazy and slovenly and in such a derogatory light. I’m not saying fat should be glorified but there shouldn’t be this constant fat shaming, especially in children’s movies.

Despite there being a strong anti-bullying theme, and this a problem that happens in a lot of movies…not just this one, Norman still has to do something extraordinary to be accepted by his peers and by his family. He has to be a hero, and then he is no longer considered a freak. Doesn’t that sort of teach kids there has to be something super awesome about you to not be picked on?

Overall it was nice to see a horror movie made for kids. One that acts like an adult horror film, still has dark and creepy themes but wasn’t produced by Tim Burton (I love Burton, but he can’t have a monopoly on good horror films for kids). I think if you have kids, or you’re babysitting it would be a great flick to watch, just not at night. And if you and your friends want a light Halloween movie, then this would be a good choice. It was cute but still had zombies.

I give it 3.5 zombies out of 5. …I didn’t go with a 4 precisely because of the fat shaming.

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Katie is a graduate student from Canada studying the environment and systems theory. She also loves dinosaurs and baking cupcakes. Follow her on twitter @katiekish

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