Jun 06, 2020

Movie Review: “Coraline”

Coraline (Dakota Fanning) and the mute Wybie get ready to watch her neighbor’s rat circus show, armed with buttered popcorn and cotton candy shot at them from the cannons.
Photo from IMDB.com

We’ve all had those days in our youth—a hot summer day with nothing to do, your parents are at work and the neighborhood kids just aren’t as cool as your buddies from recess.

This boredom dilemma is the same thing Coraline Jones goes through in the 3D animated film “Coraline,” directed by Henry Selick and based on the award-winning novella of the same name by Neil Gaiman.

After moving into a creepy old house, in the middle of nowhere, Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning) is left to her own devices after her workaholic parents (voiced by Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) dismiss her and tell her to “go count how many windows are in this house.”

She explores the home she finds a secret door, which serves as a vortex to an alternative universe as she sleeps.

In this perfect world the focus is all on Coraline. Her parents spoil her with goodies, the quirky old ladies living downstairs that stuff their dead miniature schnauzer’s turn into sexy young entertainers, the crazy man upstairs who claims to have a rat circus actually does, and her new friend-by-default Wybie Lovat (voiced by Robert Bailey, Jr.) is now mute.

What’s the catch? They all have buttons for eyes and if Coraline wants to stay she has to let her “other” mother cut out her eyes and replace them with buttons too.

After this frightening concept is revealed, Coraline wants to head for the hills, but can she escape?

With the help of a mysterious talking black cat (Keith David) who can travel back and forth through the two worlds, and the mute Wybie, Coraline decides to play a game of life and death with the evil other mother. If she doesn’t find her real parents, she’ll be trapped there forever.

The message is simple: you can’t have everything you want.

A beautifully crafted film with 3D elements that were artsy and not gimmicky, “Coraline” is visual chocolate.

Likewise, the familiar circumstances of Coraline combined with a bizarre and imaginative plot line provide viewers with something truly unique—a movie that is purely original.

The best part? You can’t even tell the main voices are Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher, which was a huge relief for me since I think they are two of the most annoying actresses today—they should really stick to animation.

But like everything great, there is a catch. No the ugly Dolby 3D glasses won’t steal your soul, but because of the thematic elements, which scared me at times, I personally wouldn’t recommend the movie for children under 5, unless your kid is one tough cookie.

It is very much a film for the “Nightmare before Christmas” and “Corpse Bride” lovers among us.

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