Coraline (2009)

Animation, Fantasy, Thriller
Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, John Hodgman, Jennifer Saunders
An adventurous girl finds another world that is a strangely idealized version of her frustrating home, but it has sinister secrets.
With its vivid stop-motion animation combined with Neil Gaiman's imaginative story, Coraline is a film that's both visually stunning and wondrously entertaining.
  • Focus Features Company:
  • PG Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 06 Feb 2009 Released:
  • 21 Jul 2009 DVD Release:
  • $75.2M Box office:

All subtitles:

Trailer:

An Instant Classic8/10
Feisty eleven-year-old Coraline walks through a secret door and discovers a parallel reality. That reality is sort of similar to the life she already knows yet deeply unsettling in a number of ways. Coraline (voice of Dakota Fanning) begins a journey of adventure and self discovery when her parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) relocate the family to Oregon from Michigan. No one in this new space has time for her so she spends her time exploring her new neighborhood with an talkative local boy named Wybie Lovat (Robert Bailey Jr.). After discovering the odd neighbors all of whom are true characters, she is still bored somehow.

All of this immense undertaking is courtesy writer and director Henry Selick, director of Nightmare Before Christmas, and the well crafted adaptation of Neil Gaiman's international best-selling children's novel. To Selick's credit this is the first 3D stop motion ever made; stereoscopic 3D. Selick himself worked on the film for three years. The style is stunning and the story is an unwavering fairy-tale nightmare that has some genuinely scary moments. is a masterful movie and an exciting tale of mystery and imagination.

In the rotting nooks and crannies of Coraline's new home the real story begins and where she discovers a hidden doorway behind the wallpaper. Inside is her alternate space where there are doubles of her distracted parents now lavish loving attention on Coraline, the oddball neighbors are friendlier, and her pesky friend long longer speaks. Only her parents' eyes now black buttons give a clue that something isn't quite right.

Selick has created a world as much for adults as children as there are references dotted throughout that the young won't understand. The imagery, however, is very child like. Both talents live side by side and bodes well for Selick's previous work in Nightmare before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach and even Monkeybone. His work has always been fascinating. Gaiman is to be credited with the story for sure, but this is Selick through and through. This film is sure to become an instant classic and as well executed as this movie is it should be.
Wonderfully imaginative animation; a visual masterpiece8/10
Henry Selick, the director of " The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "James and the Giant Peach", once again takes us to a world full of imagery and wonder...but this time...some of it is actually frightening. It was filled with such magic and enchantment that I completely forgot that it was a dark tale..until the occasional scares filled the air. It has some highly fun and amusing characters in it also, and that is the strongest thing of the movie. After viewing it, I came to the conclusion it was basically an "Alice in Wonderland" tale (girl entering new and strange world, plus the cat that talks makes it obvious) but this world has a dark twist. Filled with a great cast and terrific visionary, I feel this movie is fun for all ages (who says kiddos shouldn't be scared?)
Great, the village stalker … Coraline8/10
OK America, before you go blindly into an animated film with your young children, why don't you do a little research on what they are about to witness. A PG rating and stop-motion animated aesthetic do not always make a child-friendly adventure. Based upon the horror novella by acclaimed author Neil Gaiman, Henry Selick's Coraline is chockfull of heavy material, dark story threads, and bleak possibilities. For a guy like me, those things equal undivided success; for a child aged ten, those things equal nightmare filled evenings and parents writing angry letters to Focus Features for subjecting their children to lewd and horrific imagery. Well guess what parents? No one is to blame but you. I'm not saying keep all youngsters away, but do use some discretion on whether your son or daughter can handle the fantastical elements. This is very much Alice in Wonderland displayed in all its non-Disney possibilities. A cautionary tale on being careful what you wish for, our heroine must discover the difference between a world of people neglecting her and that of people doing all they can so that they may give her all she could ever want in the future. Life is not about getting it all right now, but instead a slow and steady climb built on love and trust, one whose benefits far outweigh the whirlwind romance that is never truly as it seems.

Remember folks, this is a story that won the 2002 Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers; it's not all sing-songy like Selick's masterpiece A Nightmare Before Christmas. With that said, however, it is very, very good in a very, very different way. Be prepared for a methodically and deliberately paced story. More psychological terror than jump out at you scares, the tale of Coraline escaping into a parallel world, perfectly mirrored of her own only inhabited by animated dolls, is one of enlightenment and discovery of what love truly means. Do we all want the parents that dote on us? The guardians that will do what we want and when we want it? Of course we do. But that idyllic utopia doesn't exist, especially in the times for which we live today. Children need to be raised and supported and that takes money and a lot of hard work. What may seem like neglect in the eyes of a child is really two people doing all they can, sacrificing their time, in order to give him/her a chance at success. Only when Coraline sees the manipulation and truth behind the "kindness" her Other-Mother gives her does she realize what she has back at home.

What we are shown is a world through a tiny door in the wall of an old triple-segmented home. There are stories about this door used to explain the disappearances of some local children, including the sister of loudmouthed and shy Wybie Lovat's grandmother. Only a weathered black cat appears to know what is going on, what the too good to be true farce beyond the door is actually masking behind it. This cat can travel between worlds and therefore knows it all, allowing him to warn Coraline by orchestrating events via those she encounters. A disgruntled child is easily malleable and fooled when doted upon and given sweets and a smile. The mantra "never talk to strangers" is never more applicable than it is here. With something a tad off-kilter in the fantasy world, Coraline finds herself shaking it off and relishing the opportunity to experience all that she had dreamed of, not knowing that if her parents succeed with their new gardening catalog, those dreams will be fulfilled in reality. Patience is a virtue and youngsters unfortunately don't learn that fact until they are all grown up, finding ways to apologize to their parents for being such confused and naive monsters.

With some very nice voicework—Dakota Fanning shines as our titular heroine; Keith David's baritone brings the cat's mixture of foreboding and help to life and Robert Bailey Jr. gets the nervous tick and stammer on the nose for Wybie, (short for WhyBorn, now that's a name you hope your parents never considered)—you do find yourself enveloped in this world. A rare thing for an animated film to begin with a cast listing, it thankfully doesn't detract from the escapism by making you think of the actor rather than the character. This fact works best with the mother, played by Teri Hatcher. I would never have been able to pick her voice out, but that just enhances it all the more, breathing life into the stop-motion clay form on screen, becoming the wolf in sheep's clothing villain necessary for it all to work.

Definitely soak in the aesthetic and intelligent storytelling as Coraline is for a thoughtful audience willing to delve deep into metaphors and hidden meaning. There is no "approved for your Attention Deficit Disorder child" stamp of approval here. In much the opposite direction, don't be surprised if your child hates you for making them sit through it. However, it is a tale that will resonate for a portion of the public, hitting on their own feelings of selfishness and wanting the spoils without the work. When your child is intellectually mature enough to handle a rich and deep story, you as a parent will know. When he or she can see a couple of big-bosomed, large older women dressed as mermaids with pasties and not laugh or get uncomfortable, that is when you should let them see Coraline. It is ultimately a film for all ages; one that shows you as adults how it all will get better—junior will one day understand the sacrifices you are making—and you children a fantastical world to escape to with consequences that will shake you into the realization of what you have right in front of you at home.
Saw a screening last night......FANTASTIC!!!9/10
i went into this movie knowing 1 thing. It was by the same guy who did Nightmare Before Christmas. so right away i knew i was in for a pretty great movie visually, if nothing else.

as it turns out, the musical score was amazing, as well as the 3-D animation and the storyline.

to those who think it won't be as creepy as the book. i can't say much for the book, having not read it. but i can say that the movie is pretty creepy in it's own right! all i can say is that i'm going to see it again when it opens. probably for a 3rd and 4th time as well.

for those who are looking for a good time with the kids, i highly recommend this. for those who are looking for a good 'trip' movie, i highly recommend this. and for those who think the magic in movies are gone, PULL-EEEZ go see this!
Henry Selick's latest film is a delight!9/10
Almost 3 weeks ago, I attended a screening from Ain't It Cool News to see Henry Selick's latest film, 'Coraline.' I was excited because the screening would showcase the film in 3-D technology, and there was the chance to do a Q&A with Director Henry Selick (unfortunately due to bad weather, Mr. Selick did not make it to our screening).

Before going in to see 'Coraline,' I had read the book on which the film was based. While many acclaimed it for it's storyline, I found it rather dull and predictable. I've been surrounded by fans of Neil Gaiman's work, though so far had never picked up a book written by him (though 'American Gods' did pique my interest).

Going into the film, I was not quite sure what to expect. I had had tastes of the film from the trailers, but the general consensus was that Henry Selick had tarnished Gaiman's story, turning it into 'Disney fodder.' The truth is: the film manages to be both charming and creepy.

For those not in the know, "Coraline" tells the tale of Coraline Jones, who moves to a new town and a house with several strange characters. As well, Coraline's parents just seem to have no time for her, and so she takes to exploring her new abode by herself. In her exploration, she uncovers a small door in the house, which seems to lead to nowhere. But upon revisiting the door late at night, it opens onto a parallel world that is much more whimsical and fun than the real world.

The one difference is that in the 'Other World,' almost all the inhabitants have buttons for eyes. But still, the other parents in this world pay attention to Coraline, and the rather blase atmosphere of the real world is electrified with color and interesting flights of fancy. It seems just so perfect...or is it? Henry Selick manages to take Neil Gaiman's story, and crafts a world that just seems to take great advantage of stop-motion in a world where the obvious choice would be to go for a totally computer-generated world. Seeing minute details such as Coraline's clothing made of actual material makes the world seem even more magical, where invisible giants manipulate the Lilliputians in this miniature world.

Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, and a number of other vocal actors give voice to a number of wonderful characters, with Hatcher really doing double and triple-duty with her vocal talents. Fanning on the other hand, fleshes out a character that seemed rather dull in Gaiman's work. Her voice gives Coraline the life that I didn't think was possible.

One unsung hero (along with the countless animators who will be passed over in the press junkets) is the composer, Bruno Corlais. Mr. Corlais had never crossed my ears until the screening, but his music lends a touch of brilliance to the film, and makes it seem almost like a European production. Growing up in he US in the early 80's, I saw a number of stop-motion productions from Europe that played on the Nickelodeon show 'Pinwheel.' Corlais' music just transported me to that simpler of times when music didn't need to be 'commercial.' His score really helps to establish the world as well, and uses some instruments that may sound foreign to American ears.

And if anyone is questioning if the 3-D is worth it-it is! This isn't the fly-in-your-face #-D that was seen 2-3 decades ago. It's subtler, but gives dimension to the miniature world of 'Coraline.' I think if you showed this film to a child in 3-D, they'd go home dreaming of creating their own little worlds of stop-motion puppets.

For the year 2009, 'Coraline' so far (as of 2/6/09), is my first enjoyable film experience. I'm hoping my other upcoming film hopefuls (Watchmen, Up, Transformers 2) will also make me feel as positive.