Coraline

Coraline tells the story of Coraline Jones, a lonely girl who just moved to a new neighborhood and left her friends far behind. Her parents both work from home, but instead of spending more time with her they are obsessed with work and constantly shoo her away so they can write. Coraline is bored, not interested in unpacking, and misses her friends. She doesn't care much for the ultra-weird talkative boy next door, called Wybie, and is desperate for companionship with someone who understands her and wants to spend time with her. So when a mysterious door turns into a tunnel in the middle of the night she is thrilled to find a loving Other Mother and Other Father at the other end.

The Other Mother explains that every child has two mothers and cossets Coraline, giving her every manner of treat and showering her with wonders. But Coraline discovers that all is not what it seems and the Other Mother has secret plans. I don't want to go into details because I don't want to spoil anything but Coraline has to be brave and stubborn to get out of danger. (My heart did go out to a small child sitting near the front of the theater who started clapping when Coraline managed to get the tunnel from her house to the Other House to open up. Oh what a disappointment was in store for the poor kid who had no idea terrible danger lurked behind the Other Mother's smiling facade.)

Henry Selick (James and the Giant Peach, The Nightmare Before Christmas) wrote the screenplay, adapting from Neil Gaiman's book of the same name. He did a phenomenal job, keeping enough of the story to satisfy diehard fans while adding new delights and terrors. Mr. Selick also directed the film and shot it in digital 3D. The animation is beyond wonderful. Although it has the seamless feel of the best computer animation, it's actually stop motion animation, done with puppets and handmade props. (The puppets are also handmade, in fact just about everything is handmade. Speaking as a knitter I think this adds a special element to the movie, making everything seem that much better, but this could just be me.) I'm always a little hesitant about seeing 3D films, not least because I get headaches at the drop of a hat, and I thought about seeing this one in 2D, but I'm glad I saw it as it was meant to be seen.

I've watched quite a few films recently that could just have easily been plays; lots of talking in just a couple of locations, but Coraline reminded me that film is a visual medium above all else. The colors are glorious with scene after scene of knockout beauty and interesting textures. Wybie wears a succession of odd garments/pieces of equipment that are fantastical and visually pleasing. The garden at the Other House is magnificent and seething with life. Coraline's neighbors are colorful and have interesting shapes and everyone in the film except Coraline has intriguing posture that would give my Wii Fit balance board a heart attack. This movie left me feeling completely happy and satisfied. I walked out of the theater unable to think of anything I wanted to change.

We tried to go to the Saturday matinee, the 2:00 showing specifically, but it was sold out so we ended up seeing Slumdog Millionaire (Zowie – absolutely amazing) at 3:00 and the 7:00 showing of Coraline. Because we were at the theatre for such a long time, I had plenty of opportunity to talk to other theatergoers and ask what they thought of the film. Virtually everyone I spoke with was thrilled with Coraline. Very young children loved it, older teens loved it and adults of all ages loved it. The only person I spoke with who was less than satisfied was a high school junior who was hoping it would be more like The Nightmare Before Christmas. She said she wanted more, but wasn't able to pin down what more meant. Her companion however was enchanted with the film and was planning to see it again.

Several parents have asked if Coraline will be too scary for their children. Although several small children came out of the theatre halfway through, none of them came out because they were too frightened to remain, instead they needed bathroom breaks. You're going to be the best judge of your child's tolerance but I can give you a tip that might help if your child does get frightened. My middle son was quite young when The Nightmare Before Christmas came out and he was badly frightened by the opening credits. He hid under my coat until the credits were over and was able to enjoy the rest of the movie, so long as he had the option of taking cover if it got to be too much for him.

There's a nice preview at the Laika site. http://www.laika.com/entertainment/ And, you can also see lots of goodies on the movie site.
http://www.coraline.com/

One-Paragraph Review
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