From KIDS FIRST!: Ever sometimes wish you had an “other-mother?” Well in the case of Coraline, she needs to be careful what she wishes for. This film feels like it is straight from Tim Burton’s reel, for it conveys the same kind of dark but whimsical world as The Nightmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissorhands; however this time it is Henry Selick to be credited. Coraline is a strong and confident girl who is well versed in magical tactics even before she moves to a very old house with her work-driven parents. In Coraline’s boredom, she finds a small door behind the wallpaper which leads to a charmingly dark parallel universe. Here she finds her “other-mother” and “other-father” who give Coraline everything she longs for in her own home. However, this other- world quickly loses its charm and becomes simply dark. Coraline must defeat her deceptive “other-mother” using her clever intellect and her newfound eclectic community. A particularly effective color score helps differentiate between Coraline’s real and parallel worlds as well as to subtly guide the viewer’s emotions. This film achieves effective subtleties in its animation, making the “real life” animation feel more life-like and the parallel universe animation feel more surreal. Though this film exhibits beautiful animation, it is consistently dark with quite a few scary sections. This film shows a dark world that a courageous little girl is able to navigate, a journey through which she realizes that her dull-colored world really wasn’t so bad. 100 min.; Ages 8-12.
A dark and creepy film about family relationships directed by Henry Selick of Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach fame, Coraline is based on the haunting book Coraline by Neil Gaiman. The first stop-motion feature shot in stereoscopic 3-D, Coraline features big-headed, stick-bodied animated characters with huge eyes and demonic grins set against menacing backgrounds and an undercurrent of spooky music. Coraline is a teenager who has just moved to an old house in the middle of nowhere with her writer parents and she is bored, bored, bored. Her only companions are an annoyingly talkative boy Wybie (short for Why Born), some eccentric neighbors from the theater and circus, and a strange, button-eyed doll with a marked resemblance to Coraline which Wybie found in an old trunk of his grandmother's. When Coraline finds an old door hidden behind an armoire and papered over with wallpaper, she convinces her mother to unlock it, only to find a wall of bricks. When Coraline revisits the door later that night, the bricks magically disappear and she discovers a strange pathway to another world where everything is just what she wishes for. In stark contrast to the real world where Coraline's parents just don't have time for her, her "Other Mother" and "Other Father" in this alternate world are the perfect loving, attentive parents who anticipate her every need and desire. Initially comforted and quite happy in this new world, suspicion that things may not be quite as they seem grows inside Coraline and her disquiet is furthered by the mute "Other Wybie" and a strange-talking cat that seems to move between both worlds. Eventually, Coraline discovers some dark secrets about her "other parents" and the seemingly perfect "other world," but it may be too late for her to escape back to the real world. Teri Hatcher is especially effective in her dual (voice) role as Mom and "Other Mom" and Dakota Fanning also gives a great performance as Coraline. Coraline is a disturbing, intriguing film that both captivates and frightens. (Ages 11 and older) --Tami Horiuchi