Movie Review – Coraline

Coraline

Directed by Henry Selick

Starring the voices of Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith David, John Hodgman, Robert Baily Jr, and Ian McShane.

Backstory

Coraline is one of those films where it feels like I’ve been waiting for it for a long time. I first heard about it online 6 years ago, when Selick announced that he nabbed the movie rights and it was going to be his next project. The original book was still six months or so away from publication. I finally sat down and read the book around a year ago…just as the first teaser started circulating. I enjoyed the book, finding it to be a gothic horror version of Spirited Away. But would the movie match?

Plot

Coraline Jones is not a happy little girl. She’s just moved to a new town, and doesn’t have any friends yet. Her parents don’t have time for her, always being hunched over their computers and trying to meet deadlines. And she finds that new neighbour boy Wybie to just be weird. She’s feeling neglected and alone. And then, while exploring her new home, she happens upon a forgotten locked door, and when she crawls through it, she arrives in a parallel world. Her Other Mother in this world is kind, caring, and attentive. Her Other Father will drop everything to play with her. The only thing? Everyone has buttons for eyes. Coraline can stay in this world too…if she agrees to have buttons sewn over her eyes. Will she be able to escape the clutches of the Other Mother and find her way home?

What I Liked

The animated films I like the most are the ones that give me something unexpected. In my all-time favourite film, The Iron Giant, it’s when one of the characters has to unzip his pants to let out a squirrel. In Coraline…it’s elderly, obese, burlesque dancers who actually get naked. The animation is fantastic. This is some of the smoothest and most fluid stop-motion animation I’ve ever seen. It’s nice and scary in the right moments. And the musical score is delightfully eerie. And, of course, it’s always a treat to hear Keith David voicing a character.

What I Didn’t Like

I found the plot to be somewhat predictable, but I chalk that up to having read the book once or twice or five times before seeing the movie. And, truth be told, I wasn’t that impressed with Dakota Fanning’s voice work. She was flat and inexpressive one moment, and then overacting the next.

Final Assessment

Truly a fantastic and wondrous film, one that truly pulls you into another world. I liked it, and I’m sure you will too, if you like your animated films just a little out of the ordinary.

3 Nibs

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