Directors: Sam Fell and Chris Butler
Stars: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Elaine Stritch, Jodelle Ferland, John Goodman, Tempestt Bledsoe
Sight gags involving kids hiding underneath frozen-stiff corpses? Nightmare fuel, no doubt. But if the underage viewers watching ParaNorman have thick enough skin, they'll find that this summer's stop-motion zombie romp is well worth the occasional frights.
The underappreciated flick presents a hero for all those grade school outcasts who can't seem to connect with their classmates: His name is, that's right, Norman (voiced with strong emotion by Kodi Smit-McPhee), and his ability to chat with dead people hinders his chances of ever feeling normal. Once a gang of lumbering, spastic zombies begins terrifying the townsfolk, though, Norman's otherwise insecure quirks allow him to save the day.
With effective messages about bullying, friendship, and standing up for what you believe in, ParaNorman offers as many life lessons as it does visual and audible nods to classic horror films. Who says scary movies don't have any societal benefits?