Coraline is the visually intense new animated film from the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas. This is no Pixar created digital film. Coraline was crafted by hand, drawn frame by frame. The attention to detail is noticeable and awe-inspiring.
Coraline is a marvelously spun tale mixing classic "too good to be true" and "grass is always greener" themes with the too-often-true-in-real-life motif of an overworked family that doesn't have nearly enough time to pay attention to their children.
Coraline's author Neil Gaiman gives a nod to a feeling every kid has had at one point in their short lives, and one that's been examined in classics Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. That is a dream to be with more fascinating people, yes, but really with people who, above all else, listen when you speak and appreciate your unique pint-sized point of view. Something important we as busy adults occasionally forget.
Director Henry Selick balances the story's pervasive creepiness with on-screen beauty around every plot twist. The result is a film that manages to keep the audience comfortable while straddling the edge of their seat.
The overriding theme I take away from Coraline is this: she longs for what most neglected kids crave and to get it she's willing to overlook some dubious and obvious signs that all is not what it appears on the "other side". The elusive treasure is not, despite what parents may want to believe, the fancy gadgets we drop into little laps to occupy their time (and keep them out of our hair). Rather, kids want silly conversation over a good meal, a fun game of hide and seek, and the warmth of loving affection lacking in a world where both parents (if there are two in the house to start with) are forced to work way too much to support even a modest lifestyle.
While the Mrs. and I continue to actively parent and engage our two kids I still saw a bit of myself in Coraline's (real) Father as he sat in front of his computer, sporting a Michigan State sweatshirt and writing. He does not want to be interrupted by his visibly bored daughter. Yeah, that hit a little close to home. I reckon most parents will come away from Coraline promising themselves that they're going to spend a little more quality time with their lil' ones going forward.
The wide angle 3D element I got to see is sparklingly clear with buzzing dragonflies whirling about the screen and tickling flowers so realistic that you'd think they're nibbling your ankles. Coraline 3D is a brilliant work of handmade art. Not all theaters nationwide are offering the 3D viewing, but it's worth searching out the one closest to you that is (link to Coraline 3D page on Fandango).
I also thoroughly enjoyed the dark yet playful score that compliments the film's sadness and joy, comfort and thrills perfectly. The "Other Father Song" by Grammy winners They Might Be Giants is 30 seconds of pure TMBG brilliance. It could be one of their long lost dial-a-songs.
I would never dream of taking the Bear (nearly age 5) but that doesn't mean the film cannot be viewed by children so young. The Bear is very sensitive to peril, perceived or real, involving any character, human or otherwise. She watches most of The Adventures of Milo & Otis through her hands and hurled herself into her Mom's arms to avoid the one intense scene during Wall-E. Coraline is a bit spooky, especially towards the end when the Other Mother's veil is finally lifted, but the film is not inherently scary in a violent or frightening way.
I cannot recommend Coraline 3D enough. It's one of the finest animated films I've ever seen.
Official Coraline Website