CoralineBy Karen Wilson with Christine Porretta
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some thematic elements, scary images, some language and suggestive humor.
Genre: Fantasy, Animation
DVD Release Date: July 21, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: February 6, 2009
Running Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes
Plot Synopsis: Coraline Jones and her family have just moved into the Pink Palace apartments and in exploring their new home, she discovers a mysterious little door wallpapered shut.
During the night she follows a mouse down the stairs and through the little door, where she discovers an ideal parallel universe in which her mother cooks all her favorite meals, her father always has time to play and all of her neighbors are fascinating. The Other Mother wants Coraline to stay with her forever, but first she'll have to replace Coraline's eyes with buttons, just like everyone else in this sinister other world.
Sex/Nudity: The actress sisters Miss Spink and Miss Forcible appear on stage in the Other World dressed as a mermaid and Botticelli's Birth of Venus which Coraline laughingly describes as "practically naked." Some sexual innuendo is also in the actresses' song.
Violence/Gore: When the Other Mother turns on Coraline, she throws Coraline behind the mirror and imprisons her parents. Coraline discovers the Other Mother has stolen other children and their ghosts tell Coraline the Other Mother will eat her. In a final showdown the Cat claws off the Other Mother's eyes and he and Coraline chop off her needle hand. The needle hand follows Coraline and she and Wybie must throw it down a well.
Which Kids Will Like It?
Preteens and teens will love the gorgeous animation and identify with the disappointments Coraline has with her real parents. Younger, and particularly impressionable children may be frightened by the Other Mother's evil deeds and spidery, needle body.
Will Parents Like It?
Featuring songs by the indie pop group They Might Be Giants and unique voice talents like comedians John Hodgman from The Daily Show, Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French of Absolutely Fabulous, Coraline should appeal to hip, discerning adults as well as kids.
Special Features: All versions of the DVD release include feature commentary with director Henry Selick and composer Bruno Coulais and a pair of 3-D glasses for viewing the film. The Blu-ray and 2-Disc Collector's Edition DVD feature deleted scenes, "The Making of Coraline" featurette, and interviews with the cast and crew. The Blu-ray version of the film contains "U-Control," Universal's signature feature allowing viewers to learn more about the film through picture-in-picture technology. View tours of the sets, animatics, and behind-the-scenes clips. The Blu-ray version also features an additional featurette, "Creepy Coraline," which delves into the nuances of Coraline's alternative worlds and access to BD-Live interactive features.
Kaboose Review: In a world of computer rendered graphics and green screens, director Henry Selick makes his stop motion animated movies the old fashioned way. Lovingly crafted from hundred of models and filmed over the course of many years, Selick's previous work has included critically lauded features like The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach.
His new movie Coraline, based on a Neil Gaiman's story, has a lot of similarities to his previous movies featuring lush, magical visuals and a creepy, ominous undertone. With this gorgeous film, he's crafted a stunning movie universe that will make you want to leap into it head first.
Coraline Jones and her parents, who are both writers for a seed catalogue, have recently moved into the Pink Palace apartments but despite this change of scenery, Coraline is frustrated with them. They always seem to be working, they put slimy chard on her dinner plate and when Coraline needs new clothes, her mother picks dull, grey shirts instead of colorful, stripy gloves.
When Coraline's new neighbor Wybie (a nickname for Why Were You Born) brings Coraline a doll dressed just like her, her boring world gets a bit more mysterious. She discovers a tiny locked doorway that when a button-adorned key opens it, appears to be bricked up but in her dreams, she's able to climb through it to another house.
In this alternate universe, Coraline discovers an Other Mother and Other Father, who do everything Coraline might like from cooking her favorite meals to planting a giant, rapidly growing garden. Even Coraline's neighbors are their best selves in the world through the door—odd Wybie doesn't talk too much, the Russian acrobat Mr. Bilonsky has trained his mice into an amazing circus act, and the aging actress sisters Miss Spink and Miss Forcible shed their skins to perform on the trapeze.
But Coraline soon learns that all of this wonderment comes with a dear price. The Other Mother wants Coraline to give up her real family and exchange her eyes for shiny black buttons, turning her into a docile living doll. When Coraline refuses, the Other Mother transforms from sweet and pleasing to a grotesque witch bent on trapping Coraline, and her unsuspecting parents, in her evil web.
One jaw-dropping sequence follows another with Bruno Coulais's evocative score weaving seamlessly into Selick's cunning settings and remarkably life-like puppets. Although this movie contains classic fairy tale conventions such as an evil witch and the heroine Coraline breaking the spell by applying her wit, Coraline's complicated familial struggles with her parents gives the film a modern outlook and a realistic twist. This fantastical tale shouldn't be missed and is sure to be a family classic.
When you're through with the feature film, be sure to take a gander at the special DVD features--they will further your admiration for the artistry and skill displayed in this film. The director's commentary by Henry Selick gives an insider look at the decisions and thought process that went into creating this 2-D and 3-D production will delight adults and inspire young artists and filmmakers.
Just as Coraline crosses into another world in the movie, scene-by-scene, Selick explains how the seven-inch Coraline puppet and her fellow miniature characters break free of cartoon trappings by being created in a world full of depth that gives the illusion of life through hand-animated movement. Timing, movement, poses, quirkiness, and subtle details (such as moving hair) give these little beings complex personalities.
Gaiman devotees who love the book will be relieved to hear Selick detail where the movie deviates from the original story line but still holds true to its roots.
Directed by: Henry Selick
Cast: Dakota Fanning (voice of Coraline Jones), Teri Hatcher (voice of Mother/Other Mother), John Hodgman (voice of Father/Other Father), Ian McShane (voice of Mr. Bobinsky), Jennifer Saunders (voice of Miss Spink), Dawn French (voice of Miss Forcible), Keith David (the Cat), Robert Bailey, Jr. (Wybie)
Karen Wilson is a freelance writer living in New York City. Christine Porretta is producer of Food and Health on Kaboose.com