Coraline (2009) Movie Review

I was looking forward to this as soon as it hit theatres. Unfortunately my busy schedule prevented me from getting to see it and oh how I regret it. Coraline, directed by Henry Selick (of Nightmare Before Christmas, and James and the Giant Peach fame)is an amazing journey of one lonely, misunderstood, and grossly ignored young lady, who find’s everything she’s ever wanted in “Other World.” “Other World” is a mirror image of our own world that Coraline finds one night behind a wallpapered door, which was formerly bricked up when she discovered it earlier in the day. In this world there are “Other” versions of all the people she has just recently met, except with one difference, they are overly attentive to Coraline (even getting her name right, which no one , save for her parents can seem to do), and they all have black buttons for eyes. That is the first hint that something is very wrong with this place. But “Other Mother” is very convincing with her sweet personality, and amazing cooking abilities.

It isn’t long before Coraline finds out exactly what’s going on and the journey takes a rather dark turn, with dark parodies of the entertaining beings the “others” once were. Henry Selick is a stop-motion GOD, and he truly excelled here. This film surpasses his past efforts, with a story based on the novel superbly talented Neil Gaiman, it’s an instant classic.

HOWEVER this movie is NOT for little children. You know your kids best, but this movie has some really disturbing imagery, and the Button eyes are the least of it.

It could easily be said that this movie could have been made with CGI techniques and would have given it a more fluid feel. I disagree. The movements that are fluid yet still somehow feel off, are what help draw you in. And half the fun of stop-motion is watching in awe as things move around the screen with amazing choreography and beautiful visuals, wondering just how they made a static object or objects move with such humanity, realism, and creepiness at times.

The voice work is absolutely stellar, with Dakota Fanning again proving why she is such an up and comer in the business. Teri Hatcher’s Mother and “Other Mother” are polar opposites and she does an incredible job playing both the “too busy for her child” Mother and the “Do anything to make you happy” “Other Mother.” It’s when things get darker that she really shines though. Rounding out the cast are Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders (BBC’s French & Saunders, Absolutely Fabulous) as downstairs neighbors and former actresses Mrs. Spink and Forcible, John Hodgman (PC of Mac and PC commercials) as Father/”Other Father,” and Keith David (Pitch Black, Chronicles of Riddick, “Goliath” voice in Gargoyles) as the voice of The Cat. This suburb cast just adds to the magic of this great film.

Finally the 3D version really pops. I personally have never been a fan of 3D as it mutes the colors too much except for a few (Red, Blue, Green, Yellow), but wow do the colors that show glow. And let’s not even start on the craziness of the effects. Needles, ramps, mice, cotton candy, and more come flying at you and it just gets better.

I would definitely suggest the two-disc set. The special features including behind the voice, and making of documentaries shows how much work is put into a film like this. Definitely a keeper. I can watch this ANYTIME!

Henry Selick (director) / Henry Selick (screenplay), Neil Gaiman (book)
CAST: Dakota Fanning … Coraline Jones (voice)
Teri Hatcher … Mel Jones / Other Mother / Beldam (voice)
Jennifer Saunders … Miss April Spink / Other Spink (voice)
Dawn French … Miss Miriam Forcible / Other Forcible (voice)
Keith David … The Cat (voice)
John Hodgman … Charlie Jones / Other Father (voice)
Robert Bailey Jr. … Wybie Lovat (voice)
Ian McShane … Mr. Sergei Alexander Bobinsky / Other Bobinsky (voice)

Buy Coraline on DVD