Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) really sees dead people and they happen to be his only friends in the world. The pre-teen years sure can be a real drag, but when a witch’s curse leads to a return of the living dead that threatens to take over an entire community, it’s up to Norman and a ragtag crew of friends and family to set things straight. There’s some solid vocal support (Anna Kendricks, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann and Jeff Garlin) behind this enterprise from directors Chris Butler (Art Department work on Coraline) and Sam Fell (director of The Tale of Despereaux), but no unique twist or stylistic flourish to scare up some excitement and, in large part, the movie can’t escape the fact that it feels like an animated version of The Sixth Sense with a dollop of action and comedy sprinkled into the mix.
The notion of a young protagonist correcting past mistakes while choosing their own path is certainly a worthy line to pursue, but ParaNorman, for all its fashionably dark hipsterism, falls short of the mark set by Brave earlier this summer. The activity here is far too normal to attract much attention. (PG) Grade: C-