I had the good fortune of getting a free pass to this movie a couple weeks before its release. I'm glad I did because I don't know that I would've gone to this movie otherwise and I definitely would've missed out on an enjoyable trip to the theatre.
I'm one of those people whose childhood was squarely situated in the 80s. I remember when family films were things like "Adventures in Babysitting" or "Goonies" or "E.T." or any number of films that seemed to feature some oddly-adorable social outcast who, along with his family and friends, winds up saving the day. While "ParaNorman" is definitely a child of this decade in some of its references and gags, there's something in its story foundation that has a bit of that 80s-retro feel to it that I actually really loved. I think it was this kind of innocence that made the movie just a little less cynical and snarky than what passes for family entertainment these days.
Animation... fantastic. I found the look of this one much more interesting than "Coraline" which was frequently just weird. The climax of the film was beautiful to watch and had an epic quality to it that went beyond the big set pieces and explosions that are also so typical these days.
And yes, there's also a message in this film, but it's a good one. The writers somehow manage to get their point across without brow-beating it home and that was refreshing as well.
I did see the 3D version of the film, but I think it would play just as well without it. It is worth seeing on the big screen though so try to sneak off to grab this one before the summer's out.