ParaNorman – is it really for the 7 – 12 group?


I watched ParaNorman last night.  I’d heard it was a funny movie so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

For those of you who don’t know, the animated movie follows the story of Norman Babcock, a misunderstood boy who is able to speak with the dead.  Because of this strange gift, he is treated like a freak by his family and peers.  One day, he meets a boy at school, Neil, who is also bullied due to his weight. One day in a bathroom stall at school, Norman gets a message from a ghost that he must use his gift and read from a book in order to save the town from the ghost of a powerful witch.  The movie takes him on the journey of finding his true purpose, acceptance of others and forgiveness and learning his own self-worth. So why do I have reservations about younger kids seeing the film?

To start with, there is a lot of bullying.  I understand it is prevalent in our society today and it gives kids something to relate to, but I think it was overdone.

The next thing that bothered me was Norman’s dad.  His reaction to Norman’s abilities was very insensitive, and several of his words were sharp and cut deep.  I understand what the writers were going for, but for a movie aimed at the 7 – 12 year old crowd, I think the writers could have come up with another way to portray Dad’s fears without losing the integrity of the story.  The explanation Norman’s mom gives Norman is simply not enough.  On top of that, I didn’t feel Norman’s dad sufficiently apologized for being a jerk to his son.  I think it’s important to show 7 – 12 year olds that parents aren’t perfect, but they recognize their mistakes and apologize accordingly.  At least they should in the movies.

The last thing that really bothered me was Neil’s older brother.  When we are introduced to the character we see he’s a big dude, lots of muscles.  He’s also about as sharp as a bowling ball.  Of course, Norman’s teen sister gets all googley eyed over him and her antics have some laughable moments.  My problem came at the end of the film when Neil’s brother pretty much announced he was gay.  Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against gay people. I have gay friends.  I do have an issue with this topic being thrown into a  children’s movie.  I felt it was completely inappropriate and tasteless.  Aside from the fact that I have an issue with media outlets exposing young people to alternative lifestyles instead of the kids learning about them from their parents and immediate surroundings, the writers made this gay kid muscle-bound and dumb as an ox.  I have problems with that.

Was I offended by the film?  No.  Would I say don’t let your kids watch the film?  No.  I’m not into telling parents what to do or not to do with their kids.  I do feel parents should be armed when they sit down with their children to watch a film.  Had I had a child 7, 8 or 9 years old and I knew the film had a lot of bullying, angry mobs shooting zombies and a big, dumb lug professing that his boyfriend likes chick flicks, I don’t think I would have let my kids watch the film.   It’s not because I have a phobia.  It’s because I don’t think it’s right for media to promote hidden agendas to unsuspecting parents disguised as animated films for young people.

There are lots of good films for kids and young adults.  Be informed.  Know what your kids are watching.  And don’t be afraid to be a parent and say “No.”  They’ll thank you someday for watching out for them.

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11 thoughts on “ParaNorman – is it really for the 7 – 12 group?

  1. “There are lots of good films for kids and young adults. Be informed. Know what your kids are watching. And don’t be afraid to be a parent and say “No.” They’ll thank you someday for watching out for them.”

    I’ve got four kids, two of whom are in that 7-12 range, one of whom will be breaching it soon. They already thank me for watching out for them. =0) Something to note about the way movies are marketed: even PG-13 and R-rated movies are aggressively marketed to kids between 5-12 (case in point: Pirates of the Caribbean action figures). A really good review site is pluggedin.com They use a categorized, quantitative approach (example: under the Language category they list any insults or @#!% words, sometimes with a count of repetitions), so it’s easier to make up your own mind rather than rely on someone’s opinion, although they do give those in the introductions and conclusions as well.

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  2. I do plan to see this film; my kids are in their mid-teens. Sounds like the writer(s) was trying to cover all their plot points and did it in an awkward way. Makes me wonder if this is their first project for kids.

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    1. I don’t think it’s bad for kids 12 and older. I don’t think the movie is bad in itself. I just thought it might be inappropriate for younger kids. I do admit there were a few spots I laughed at, but when my 21 year old outspoken son says “They put that in a kid movie?”, I had to stop and think, is this really for smaller kids?

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    1. I agree, but innocence does thrive. I see it in my grand-daughter and some other kids, but it’s because their parents are on top of the garbage and get rid of it before it corrupts their little minds.

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  3. I haven’t seen the movie, but assuming all of this is so (which I have no reason to doubt you 🙂 ), that’s too bad that it’s suggested for that age group. Sometimes, adults think they know what’s good for kids, but really don’t have the necessary ties to know (kids of their own in that group, for example.)

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    1. I’m not sure if it was ‘aimed’ for kids that age, but many parents see ‘animated’ and think “Oh, little Johnny will love this.” Many parents don’t care about little things like what I mentioned. I am of the old school. I like Disney and Pixar films. I just think kids need to be kids and I think films directed at them should have positive messages. There’s plenty of negative bombarding them every day. Movies should be a place where they’re emotionally safe and can have some fun. JMHO

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