1900.1280.fin.002._L.0033.jpgWhat an odd duck this one is. A little bit horror, a little bit animated “feel good,” a little bit dark drama about social alienation. An extremely strange blend of genres and styles, ParaNorman somehow manages to pull it off…sort of. In the same way that it’s a messy mix of concepts and themes, it’s also messy in terms of execution. Some moments are inspired, charming, and/or funny, like Norman’s love/hate relationship with his sister and a clever little pro-gay rights moment near the conclusion . Others, like the actual zombies and their back-story, feel shallow, discombobulated and clunky. The plot itselfa boy who can see, and speak to, the dead (including his deceased grandmother) finds himself mocked by his entire town until an awakening of seven cursed corpses forces a change of heartis funky and somewhat tired, yet has just enough original spunk to avoid being a chore. The banter between the characters is mostly above-average, and the emotional development is as well. There’s also something appealing about Norman’s triple-pronged challenges from the grownups/parents, other kids, and the undeadwhile this sort of growth in a film is hardly original, it’s executed pretty well here. There are just too many lulls and tonal inconsistencies to elevate ParaNorman above the “decent” threshold. That risk always exists when a filmmaker tries to straddle genres, and it’s on full display here. Still, there’s enough to like to earn a moderately positive overall assessment.