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Coraline (movie)

A 2009 stop motion animated fantasy film directed by Henry Selick.

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"You Think This World Is Magical...But You're WRONG!"

  • Apr 13, 2009
  • by

If bright colors in recent family films have been getting on your nerves recently I would like to turn your attention to "Coraline." Based off a book by Neil Gaiman and directed by stop-motion master Henry Selick, here is a movie that dares to be ugly, stiff, and dark. A movie that is visually stunning not because it's great but because it stands out. Oh don't get me wrong, there are scenes of beauty and color, but as the main character finds out this is all a cover up before the meat of the story opens up. The movie stars the title character, a twelve year old brat voiced by Dakota Fanning. She's miserable with her life because her parents are busy writing a garden catalog, and therefor don't dot her with the attention she feels she deserves. I know she deserves a slap across the face, but her parents just sort of put up with her.

Either they don't care how she acts or she's acted this way long enough to the point where they just tolerate it. I know my mom wouldn't let me get away with this, but whatever. The movie picks up when Coraline discovers a small door in her house that leads to an alternate world that is more colorful, more lively, and she has alternate parents who are much nicer to her. They feed her cakes, spoil her rotten, and all they ask in return is that she sow buttons over her eyes like everyone else in that world. The cakes Coraline could take, but does she want to replace her eyes? Most kids in the audience seemed to make a public statement that that was asking too much of her. Once she refuses the eyes the world becomes ugly faster then you realize. Really, it's almost amazing how fast this movie blind sides the audience.

While the film is in no way a family-friendly film in the first place, the direction this film takes at the halfway point can best be described as "children's horror." Ghosts, skellingtons, and starving/deformed people take over the film, and the house now looks like a goth kids attack. For years people wondered whether or not Selick was anything without Tim Burton, and judging from this movie I'd say he's finally found his niche. This is easily one of the most unique looking films in years, one that's sure to inspire a new line of punk clothes. Don't take me lightly when I call this a children's horror: It is really, truly scary at times. So much so that I wonder whether or not kids will be frightened of it. I know that kids are growing up faster these days but...I don't know, this seems to be pushing your luck with a potential psychiatrist bill down the road.

But not only is the film scary, in an odd way it's funny as well. No, there aren't a lot of pop culture puns or sight gags, but there is a morbid sense of fun to be had in Coraline's misery. Because despite the fact that she's the main character she's a selfish brat, and she kind of deserves what's coming to her. It's oddly liberating to see a child in a compromising situation that you hope she gets out of, but maybe not so soon to insure she learns her lesson. The voice cast is also universally fantastic, with special notice going to Teri Hatcher who has to play Coraline's mother in three different character pitches. The music, written by French artist Bruno Coulais, also contributes to "Coraline's" creepy atmosphere and look, leading me to believe the CD will be worth lots of money when it goes out of print.

I'm easily going to recommend the film but with a strong warning to parents to preview the film before letting kids watch it. I know that parents have to compete with a $20 million advertising campaign, but you have leverage in that McDonald's would not make a Happy Meal promotion with this film. Ironically though, this is the sort of children's movie we see more of. Not one that's necessarily violent and dark, but rather smart and imaginative. A more contemplative film that takes time to develope it's story and characters, and not distract the kids with fast editing and pacing. Something that is great to look at, with interesting characters, and a story you can get wrapped up in. If I were Pixar I'd be jealous of this film.

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April 13, 2009
I agree with both of you! My boyfriend and I loved it but, I wouldn't take my 8-year-old niece to it. Kevin- you might like @QUEENBFLIX's list of her favorite horror flicks
April 14, 2009
Fifteen years ago most parents wouldn't take their 8-year olds...but then, parents were more conservative about what their kids saw back then. Now they take them to "The 40-Year Old Virgin." My how times have changed.
April 14, 2009
LOL....true indeed! Maybe it's just lazy parenting, you know- anything to keep them shut up for a few hours ;P Your reviews are awesome...
April 13, 2009
This film struck me as kind of scary too. Compared to the teen flick Twilight, I thought Coraline was much scarier. I heard that kids didn't really take to this film, and I imagine that probably claymation doesn't compare with the computer-generation animation of Pixar films. What did you think?
April 14, 2009
It's not really a kids film, that's why they didn't take to it. This is something that years later most kids will revisit and realize just how good it was.
More Coraline (film) reviews
review by . March 26, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   Yes, yes; I know there is a BOOK called Coraline that was the basis of this film.      I have more time to watch a movie than to sit and read, sue me.      Now that that is out of the way -      Coraline follows a young girl and her parents who have moved from the city where her parents write seed catalogs (but in reality hate dirt). Coraline is bored to tears. She wanders around meeting the other eccentric residents of the …
review by . January 22, 2011
Coraline is in my opinion one of the best kids films of the 2000's and one of the best kids movies I have ever seen. It is made by Henry Selick, the mastermind behind Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach, and is made somewhat in the style of a Tim Burton movie. The animation is simply breathtaking and the voice acting is wonderful as well. The only reason I'm not giving it a 90 or 100 is that it scared the hell out of me in the theatre, but not so much in the comfort …
review by . May 02, 2011
Edgier than traditional Disney fare, Lilo and Stitch is easily the best Disney movie of the early 2000's. I'm terribly ill again and I watched this when my mom dug out some old VHS tapes. I absolutely adored this movie as a child and I still adore this today. It is a super-fun super entertaining movie that will please people young and old and has the same timeless feel that all great Disney movies has. It also features cool memorable characters, great animation, and a powerful underlying …
review by . July 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I personally enjoyed this film, though my son refused to continue watching it, just for the mere fact of the dark eeriness that surrounds it. The director, Henry Selick, is much more like Tim Burton than I expected, though I believe they've worked together in the past. However, since I enjoy Tim Burton movies, I enjoyed Coraline. However, I would not recommend it to you if you don't have a humor or artistic appreciation similar to that of Burton's because Coraline is right up that alley.   …
review by . April 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Neil Gaiman is known mostly for his graphic novels and a handful of Children's Literature (not to mention an adult novel or two).  He's all over and has a pretty big cult following.  When he began writing Coraline it was mostly just a free write.  Hence, he didn't know where the story was going or what would happen next.  When he was finished with it, his first thought was: Henry Selick would like this.  And he had his agent send it off to Henry Selick who did, indeed, love …
Quick Tip by . January 06, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Neil Gaiman's work becomes adapted to the big screen in gorgeous stop-motion animation. This is a fantastic whimsical story about us being dissatisfied with what we have, and our desires that may tend to lead us to a darker path.
review by . May 28, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
You have to feel for Henry Selick. He got somewhat of a raw deal with his directoral debut feature The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Most of the credit and accolades for that film undeservedly went to Tim Burton, who actually only provided the story and some of the character designs. The style and aesthetic of that movie was assumed to be all Burton's, but, after seeing Coraline, it's clear how much was down to Selick.   Coraline is a stunningly well designed movie; beautiful yet strange, …
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A huge breath of fresh air; gorgeous cinematography and reminder to cherish the things we already have. "Be careful what you wish for."
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Coraline was just so cute and mysterious at the same time... loved it
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A very interesting animated film, one of my favorites. I suggest watching it with as many people as possible
About the reviewer
Kevin T. Rodriguez ()
Ranked #127
Kevin T. Rodriguez is an aspiring film journalist. He's more comfortable typing a review then doing an on-camera appearance, but he loves doing the occasional rant. Whether it be on movies, eBay, or comics, … more
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About this movie


For the last three years, the world's oddest and most talented animators, artisans, and puppet fabricators have been hand-making LAIKA's first animated feature film, Coraline. Led by Henry Selick, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach, this team has created the first stop-motion feature shot in stereoscopic 3D. Based on the beloved best-selling children's classic by Neil Gaiman, Coraline is a fairy-tale nightmere steeped in classic storytelling, craftsmanship, and the old-fashioned art of moviemaking magic. In Coraline, a young girl walks through a secret door in her new home and discovers an alternate version of her life - a better version. But when this wondrously off-kilter, fantastical adventure turns dangerous and her "Other" parents try to keep her forever, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness, determination, and bravery to get back home.
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Director: Henry Selick
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Release Date: February 06, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: Henry Selick
DVD Release Date: July 21, 2009
Runtime: 96 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios, LAIKA
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Coraline (movie)

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