Today's Pick: ParaNorman (2012)
I love movies about weird kids. Most people feel weird when they're kids, and it's much easier to relate to young outcasts than it is ti even semi-popular characters. Not only do I love ParaNorman for this reason, but also because the overall message of the film ends up being about how we judge people who are different, and how that almost always leads to nothing but trouble.
Another strong factor in ParaNorman is that it is obviously crafted with nothing but affection for the horror genre. Norman's cell phone ringtone is the theme from Halloween, Norman's friend Neil wears a hockey mask, there's a pub named Bar Gento, and I'm sure there are even more direct references I missed. That same love is reflected in the film's visual component. While nothing is completely horrific, it's also not clean or sugarcoated. There's a concentrated ugliness in the design aspect that gives the movie a lot more flavor than most of the smooth and clean CGI cartoons of today.
That ugliness informs the menace of the movie quite well. Things get legitimately spooky, especially for a kid flick. Characters die and become ghosts, and the overall threat of the film is never demeaned comically. For as much fun and humor that is packed into the film, there's a just as much attention given to making the horror elements ring true. For a movie aimed at a grade school demographic, that's far too rare.
I also love a lot of what the movie is saying. It's okay to be weird and different, if that's who you really are. Norman doesn't change who he is by the film's end, but teaches everyone else to accept him and other misunderstood characters. There's even a sly little bit of sexual progressiveness snuck into the film's ending. It's the exact kind of stuff oddball kids need to hear more of in their fiction. If you can do that while being funny, scary and entertaining then all the better.
Both ParaNorman and Frankenweenie came out in the same year, and managed to be nice treats for horror fans and their children. ParaNorman is the better film (I have a feeling Frankenweenie will show up on this list next year), if just because the message of the movie is more poignant and heartwarming. Check it out. You won't regret it.
Tomorrow's movie was eventually turned into a musical. No, it's not Carrie. See you then!
31 Days of Drew 2 (2014)
31 Days of Drew (2013)