MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +2

Content: -4

A stop-motion animated/sci/fi/horror/comedy from. Voices: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Lesie Mann, John Goodman. Directed by Chris Butler & Sam Fell.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Norman is an 11-year-old, geeky kid who sees dead people – and talks to them. He loves watching zombie movies, and by all the zombie posters plastered around his room, it is apparent that he is obsessed with things not of this world. It turns out his eccentric uncle is also under the influence of the paranormal. Just before he drops dead from a heart attack, he tells Norman that a couple hundred years ago, the pious town folk hanged a little girl accused of being a witch. This very night, she is returning with a vengeance, as she plans on raising the dead and destroying the town. (Hey, sounds like kid-friendly subject matter to me. And afterwards, why not show them Night of the Living Dead? I’m sure they’ll love that too.)

PREVIEW REVIEW: Funny and creative, this stylized and often wry spooky comedy is a tad too scary for little ones. Or so I thought. I was a bit dumbfound by the amount of frightening imagery that involved zombies and a witch who comes amid a frightening storm cloud, as well as some language, crude humor and sexual references. There were a lot of little kids, ages 4 or 5 at the press screening with their moms and dads. Strangely, none seemed terrified by the jolting visuals of the dead coming out of the graves a la Night of the Living Dead, and terrifying the residents of Blithe Hollow. If I had a little boy or girl, I would hesitate exposing them to any fright flick, even an animated comedy. But none of the parents took their children out of the theater.

After the film, I heard a kid say to his dad, that it wasn’t scary, just funny. Yeah, right. I wonder how he felt about it at one/a.m.

There were a couple of crude jokes and one joke, though amusing to the screening audience, was a bit inappropriate for children. It had to do with a teen girl in the movie having a crush on a well built, rather indifferent teen boy. Nearing the end of the movie, she asks if they could go to the movies. He responds, oblivious to her interest in him, “Yeah, my boyfriend loves chick flicks.”

The film’s underlying message is a smack in the face of intolerance, bullying, and our fears concerning people and things we don’t understand. Just to make sure this message gets across, the producers beat us over our head with it.

I understand the filmmaker is making a social statement, not just about bullying, but about acceptance of those different from us, but the imagey seemed geared more for an older audience. It’s kind of The Night of the Living Dead meets Poltergeist meets Tim Burton. But hey, they’re your kids.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Focus Features

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: There are several crude terms and much name calling, as well as bullying; in the filmmaker’s defense, he is making a point that such behavior is wrong – at least with the bullying aspect.

Obscene Language: Though there is no harsh obscenity, there are several words spoken that I found surprising for a film aimed at kids.

Profanity: None

Violence: The dead come out of their graves and creep about, with arms and legs falling off, while they mutter “brains”; a frightening storm a cloud appears, with a witch creating havoc, and threatening a boy; kids are bullied and pushed about at school.

Sex: A couple of sexual remarks made by boys.

Nudity: A billboard shows a scantily clad woman with dollar bills exposed from her cleavage.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: None

Other: It’s message has to do with acceptance and support of those who don’t conform to society's conception of normal; also disturbing – a little girl, the ghost of a child hanged centuries ago, states she wants her mommy. Not for little ones, though the studio, the filmmakers and the parents of those at the screening would disagree.

Running Time: 93 minutes
Intended Audience: Families?

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