Coraline

"Very Good"

Coraline Review


Remember The Nightmare Before Christmas? The holiday classic is invariably credited to its producer and story writer Tim Burton, but the film was actually directed by New Jersey native Henry Selick, an animator on Pete's Dragon and The Fox and the Hound who met Burton when they both worked at Disney in the '80s. Selick finally returns to the world of stop-motion animation once again, which he used solely in both Nightmare and the 1996 Roald Dahl adaptation James and the Giant Peach, with Coraline, another adaptation of a cryptic children's fable, this one written by literary goth overlord Neil Gaiman.

Like Alice in Wonderland reconfigured for David Lynch fans, this eerie-yet-elegant tale sets its sights on the blue-haired, oddly-named girl who gives the film its title. Voiced with energy and outre charm by Dakota Fanning, Coraline is the only child of a pair of Michigan-alum parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) who write garden catalogues as their daughter explores the dire tundra outside their new home. Prompted by curiosity and ongoing rows over mom's bad casserole and drab taste in clothing, the parilous scamp ultimately unlocks a small door and finds herself in a world where the land outside glows like Christmas lights, her Other Father is a buoyant inventor, and her Other Mother (both voiced by the same players) always cooks a luxurious feast. The catch: Everyone, including the neighbors and their pets, has black buttons for eyes.

Though a few of the more perverse concepts from Gaiman's book have been smoothed-out, his knack for dark and lively imagery has been translated with gravitas by Selick, who by now should be the obvious candidate to hand over any and all Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein projects to. Despite a worn-out message (the grass is always greener/be careful what you wish for), Selick's vision is lean, funny and a lot of fun to watch in all its big-screen 3D splendor. The visual scheme gets even more arresting when Other Mother turns into a skin-and-bone, humpbacked witch who kidnaps Coraline's real parents, sending all the inventive nuances into overdrive as our young heroine attempts to save her parents from the other world and herself from being black-buttoned.

In a post-Wall-E animation market, a film must come armed with insight into the world at large, and Coraline has some solid ruminations on parenting, individuality, and, most flagrantly, the mother-daughter bond. Mostly, however, it just knocks your eyes out of their sockets. The voice acting is solid, too. Ian McShane does dependable work as the Russian who runs a mouse circus upstairs, and Coraline's downstairs neighbors (Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French) offer a grand performance in an opera house full of Scottish terriers. There's also Keith David as a prophetic black cat who follows Coraline around.

Right now, one has to doubt that Coraline will ever be the sort of success Nightmare eventually became. There isn't enough blatant marketability and the film isn't nearly as daring as Selick's debut, although a healthy base of too-young-for-Juno tweens could be well within the film's cult reach. Still, with Pixar and Dreamworks' next projects months away, Coraline keeps the welcome resurgence of mildly-intelligent, strangely-topical animated features rolling.

The cake is not a lie.



Coraline

Facts and Figures

Run time: 100 mins

In Theaters: Friday 6th February 2009

Box Office USA: $75.2M

Box Office Worldwide: $124.6M

Budget: $60M

Distributed by: Focus Features

Production compaines: Focus Features, Laika Entertainment, Pandemonium

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 231 Rotten: 26

IMDB: 7.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Mary Sandell

Starring: as Coraline Jones (voice), as Mother / Other Mother (voice), as Miss Spink (voice), as Miss Forcible (voice), as Cat (voice), John Hodgman as Father / Other Father (voice), as Wyborne 'Wybie' Lovat, as Mr. Sergei Alexander Bobinsky / Other Bobinsky

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.