This week, I watched Coraline, the latest animated film in what we might call the “Nightmare Before Christmas genre”. An animated movie intended for… a different kind of kid, if you will. (For the record, it’s not as cool as The Nightmare Before Christmas, nothing will ever be as freakishly cool as that, although, it should be noted that both movies share the same director, Henry Selick).
If you’re a parent, and you plop you’re kid down in front of this, thinking “oh, it’s animated, it must be okay,” be forewarned. This is not Open Season or Cars. There are no singing, dancing animals (although, there is a talking cat).
No, Coraline, will likely appeal to those of who liked Daria in high school, enjoy Tim Burton movies or find ourselves attached to Violet from The Incredibles.
Coraline is based on the book of the same name, by Neil Gaiman. It features the voice talents Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher and several other gifted actors.
The plot revolves around a young girl, Coraline, who has just moved to a new home and a new state. She lives with her parents who largely ignore her, and is thoroughly frustrated with her life. One rainy day, in an effort to stave off her boredom, she begins exploring the ancient house they now live in.
While searching, she finds a miniature door, which opens to another world—a world where everything is perfect—or so it would seem. As the plot continues to unfold, there are several interesting twists and turns to keep the audience interested.
As usual, I don’t like to divulge much of the plot, in case you actually want to SEE the movie, instead of reading about it.
There are a few things I’d like to talk about though. First, as I mentioned earlier, the movie might not be for all children. Frightening probably isn’t the right word, although, depending on sensibilities, it might apply. The opening credits sequence alone would be enough to scare some little kids. Then again, others wouldn’t even be phased by it.
Now that I have that out of the way, let me say a few other things about it. I absolutely love the title character. Coraline is a special character, I wouldn’t change her in any way. Her facial expressions, the way she moves, the way she talks—even her voice. There was just something interesting about her. When I first started watching, I felt that Dakota Fanning’s voice wasn’t quite right, but as it progressed, I got used to it, and found it just right.
Speaking of movements—that was something else I really enjoyed about this film. The characters all moved like rag-dolls, rather appropriate, considering that dolls are a significant part of the plot.
I also enjoyed that the movie-makers occasionally used unconventional “camera angles”. They remembered that they were making an animated movie, and therefore weren’t limited to the normal angles that a camera can shoot from.
I really enjoyed this movie all the way around. It was fun and it was clever. In some ways, it reminded me of The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and James and the Giant Peach. At the same time, I was also reminded of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice and Being John Malkovich.
So, highly recommended, just keep the warnings in mind. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!
Advisories: Could be frightening for very young viewers
Running Time: 96 minutes