Critique of “ParaNorman” (2012)

Graveyard at night with an old book sticking out at the bottom – image edited from both Pexels and Pixabay – NOT from the movie

ParaNorman portrays a young boy, named Norman Babcock, who can talk to the dead. He is the only one who can see ghosts. However, others don’t understand him and they think he is crazy… except for a heavy kid named Neil, who gets excited by Norman’s special powers.

But Norman is given a task to stop a witch’s curse from raising the dead. He fails and the zombies go to town. The community tries to hurt the zombies. It’s up to Norman to fulfill his duties.

I enjoyed the movie enough that I watched it over and over again on my own. In fact, ParaNorman is one of the few movies I can watch a lot in a short period of time.


1: The humor

Despite the dark tone, the humor added was done well. I particularly loved the scene of the guy waiting for his snack at the vending machine while the zombies come closer to him. The dialogue also expresses humor effectively. It’s especially funny in the second half of the film.

2: The plot twists

I appreciated the twists and turns made throughout the film. After all, no film should be too predictable.

Who is the witch? Will Norman succeed or fail? See the movie to find out.

3: The historical facts about Puritans

Although this is frowned upon in storytelling if overdone, just the right amount that the plot needs will make it work.

In ParaNorman, the facts about the Pilgrims and their culture engaged my interest in the film even more. I was reminded facts that I had almost forgotten myself, like when people found guilty of witchcraft were no longer considered humans.


1: Lack of Believability

Despite the humor in the plot and the strong characterization, I found certain elements to be unbelievable.

While that didn’t bother me much, I was surprised when I discovered that ParaNorman was based off a book. Book rules are another story, but characters do have to behave like real people.

Unless the movie changed pretty much everything from the book, I feel that the story and characters could have been more believable.

For example, Norman walks to school for minutes by himself, at age 11. If the story took place in the 70s or earlier, then that would have been believable.

However, it takes place around the time it was released. If you let your eleven-year-old child walk to school in a city alone, you could get in trouble with CPS.

Another example was when his classmate, Salma, barely reacted to Norman stating that the zombies were about to eat him. She just sighed and answered his question about finding out where the witch was buried.

Even if you didn’t care about your classmate, wouldn’t you be scared if he or she called you and told you about a zombie currently attacking him or her? I certainly would.

2: The character stereotypes

Norman’s mother is gentler and shows more effort in understanding him than his father, who is rougher and refuses to comprehend what he goes through. His older sister, Courtney, gets annoyed with his actions, talks on the phone a lot, and talks with the stereotypical teenage girl language. Doesn’t anyone find these clichéd at this point?

3: The mildly mature content

I used to think ParaNorman was rated PG-13 due to the language, mildly sexual terms, and dark tone. It is actually PG, like almost every children’s movie is these days, although in the late 2010s, PG became similar to PG-13 again.

The other moments may have crude humor or mild language (not cursing, but words like “idiot”), but they are not usually like ParaNorman. I don’t know if a child under 12 should watch ParaNorman unless they are considered very mature for his or her age.


Overall, I rate ParaNorman 5 out of 5 stars. Have you seen this movie? Would you want to? Let me know know in the comments. Thanks.

Published by Sunayna Prasad

I enjoy writing stories, creating artwork, watching movies and TV shows, cooking, and traveling. These are the topics of my posts. I also publish books, where you can learn about them on my website, Be sure to copy and paste the link and subscribe to my newsletter on the email list button on the homepage.

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