Friday, November 16, 2012

ParaNorman: Zombie-Proof and Teen-Approved

It's not surprising that since my kids have morphed into teens, it's getting more and more difficult to find movies that we can all see together as a family. While I'm trying to talk them into seeing the latest PG offering, they're begging me to buy them tickets to (and then sit five rows behind them) for Magic Mike.

By the way, their attempts to fool me into thinking that Channing Tatum plays a ballroom dancer in Magic Mike didn't work. Do they think I was born yesterday? Everyone knows it's about a magician.

But last weekend we were invited to a screening of a movie we all actually wanted to see – ParaNorman. My 14-year-old saw it during its initial release and had been bugging her older sister and my husband and I to see it. She kept saying things like, "It's not just your average kid's movie," and "No one takes their shirt off I swear!"

(The invite came from Focus Features and I have to admit that I was initially most excited at the fact that the screening was going to take place at the Linwood Dunn Theater inside the Pickford Center For Motion Picture Study in Hollywood. I've driven by this building millions of times and always wanted to walk its hallowed halls – and it's beautiful!)

The screening started off with a few words by Chris Butler, the screenwriter and co-director. Although some of the younger kids (and some adults) probably couldn't wait for this part to end, getting to hear him speak about the movie and his process was one of the highlights for my girls. They've become huge fans of these types of events – we saw a screening recently of Perks Of Being A Wallflower that was followed by a Q&A with writer and director Stephen Chbosky and my daughter was glued to every word. He's the Justin Bieber of film!

But getting back to the movie - we all loved it. The animation is beautiful and the story – about a misunderstood and unappreciated young boy with special 'powers' who rises above his tormenters (and zombies) to save his town – will resonate with everyone. I was actually surprised at how dark and subversive it was (that's a good thing) and thought the dialogue and jokes played to the adults as well as the kids. I think there were a lot of scenes, though, that could possibly be pretty frightening for younger audiences, so beware if you're taking your little ones. 

But there are some valuable lessons running throughout the movie for kids (and again, adults) about bullying, reaching out to people and learning to embrace the unique qualities of not only others but of yourself.

The only thing that would have made my teens like it more? An appearance by Channing Tatum. Fully clothed and performing some magic tricks, of course.

ParaNorman is still in select theaters and will be released on DVD Nov. 27.

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