Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Coraline is a stop-motion animated film based on Neil Gaiman's book of the same name. It is a horror fantasy that can be genuinely creepy at times. Heck, at a couple scenes you might ask whether or not you'd want your kids watching it for fear they'd have nightmares. I think it is pretty safe for most kids, but it can be pretty creepy.

The story follows a young girl named (surprise, surprise) Coraline. She's a young, energetic, and inquisitive little girl with very loving, but somewhat inattentive parents. They move from her hometown in Michigan to a small town in Oregon for her parent's work. She is rather bored and frustrated with the way things are and tries to pass the time by exploring the new house and surrounding area. She meets her quirky neighbors (a Russian Gymnast, a pair former burlesque performers, her landlady's grandson, and a black cat) as she explores the house even further, she finds a small door that's been hidden by wallpaper. Curious, she eventually manages to find a key to unlock it, and finds nothing there. However, late at night, following noises, she opens the door again, and finds a tunnel. On the other side she finds an exact copy of the house, complete with seemingly perfect parents and entertaining, rather than confusing, neighbors. Everything seems perfect. Her "other" parents show interest in her, they talk with her, and her other mother is even a good cook! They, and everything else, seem to be just perfect. The one odd thing about it all is that everybody has buttons for eyes, even the mice. Well, the cat doesn't, but he can talk here. And he tells her not to come back.
Well, not to give away too much, but while Coraline does keep coming back to the other house, she begins to suspect that not everything is as perfect as it seems. Especially when her other mother offers to sew buttons over Coraline's eyes so she can stay with her other family forever.

The film is a pretty good adaptation of the book. There are very few differences, though they are pretty big, such as adding the character of the landlady's grandson (which was done so Coraline wouldn't be talking to herself the whole movie) and moving the location to the States instead of England. (I think the book took place in England. It's been a while since I read the book, I could be wrong there.) Whatever you think of the book (and you should think that it's amazing, though you are not legally required) the film is really, really good. The animation is the best stop motion I've seen since The Nightmare Before Christmas or Corpse Bride. (Granted, you don't see much stop-motion these days, but when you do, it's not normally this good.) The voice acting is very well done. The characters are interesting (I especially like the cat, who acts like a more helpful, less insane Cheshire Cat, appearing and disappearing almost at will and dispensing cryptic but useful advice.) The visuals set the perfect atmosphere for the story. The movie can be genuinely creepy at times. And probably my favorite part of the movie is the fact that there are a LOT of subtle touches added to the movie that you probably won't notice the first time you watch, but when you do notice it you go: "Oh! That's so cool!" If I may be so bold (and yes, I give myself permission to be so bold) I really think that Coraline is a modern classic, up there with such great movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Now that's not to say that there's nothing objectionable in the movie. Aside from the creepiness factor, there is one single scene in the "other" world where the two "other" sisters are pulling off one of their burlesque acts, and.. it... uhhh... It's got some innuendo in it. Not too bad by itself, but the outfits they wear... Well, let's just say that it stretches the limits of what constitutes "not nude". Seriously, if you want to see just how bad it is, check out this picture here: But I warn you: Some things cannot be unseen.
The upside is that that particular scene only lasts about two or three minutes before the bad sight goes away. And like I said, that was the only scene (a thankfully short scene) that I would consider objectionable in the entire movie.

Bottom Line: This is a great movie, and if you haven't seen it yet, you should. I mean that. Go out and see it as soon as possible. I don't care if it's not Halloween; it's worth it.

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