Friday, February 13, 2009

Coraline - Mini-review

My kids wanted to see Coraline last weekend, and my husband said he'd heard it had great reviews. I went to it knowing nothing about it (unusual for my normal movie-going!) I LOVED it!

Coraline is based on a book by Neil Gaiman who just won the Newberry award for his book The Graveyard Book, about a boy who grows up in a cemetery raised by ghosts and werewolves. This guy knows from creepy! After seeing the film, I looked up Gaiman on Imdb, and saw that he also wrote Stardust, an underappreciated fantasy film that I really enjoyed. Neil Gaiman doesn't just write for kids. He has several adult novels and has written comics as well.

Coraline is directed by Henry Selick who directed Tim Burton's on Nightmare before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. It has a similar stop motion style, but Coraline is a magical world all of its own. It's in 3D but unlike in some other 3D films, I didn't feel like it detracted from the story, but enhanced some of the visual effects of Coraline's world.

Coraline is voice by Dakota Fanning and I love that she isn't saccharine sweet. She's slightly annoying and has spunk. Coraline's real mother and the "Other Mother" in the alternate universe behind a small door in the wall are voiced by Teri Hatcher. She is terrifyingly creepy as the Other Mother. Coraline's real mother is too distracted to pay much attention to her, but the Other Mother makes her wonderful dinners and tucks her in at night. She also wants to make Coraline into a sort of Stepford daughter and sew buttons in her eyes!

Teri Hatcher has an 11 year old daughter and invited some her friends and their parents to a screening

“My house is known as Camp Hatcher. Kids come over and bake cookies and do creative things. After the screening, one kid said, ‘Well, no more sleepovers at Hatcher’s house.' ”
There are other very colorful characters. Ian McShane from Deadwood voices Mr. Bobinsky, a circus performer, and there are two little old ladies living in the basement of the apartment house that it's hinted have a past in the adult entertainment industry!

This is an excellent film and not just for kids. There were two men sitting next to me in the theater full of families, and they had no kids with them. They looked to be in their 20's and were probably fans of animation and Henry Selick's work. I would caution about bringing very young children, as I am not kidding about the creepy story. You don't have to have a slasher film like Saw to be creepy! My sons are 8 and 12 and it was perfect for them, and they loved it. Three and a half stars and highly recommended.

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