Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 2009. Focus Features, Laika Entertainment, Pandemonium. Screenplay by Henry Selick, based on the book by Neil Gaiman. Cinematography by Pete Kozachik. Produced by Claire Jennings, Bill Mechanic, Mary Sandell, Henry Selick. Music by Bruno Coulais. Production Design by Henry Selick. Film Editing by Christopher Murrie, Ronald Saunders. Academy Awards 2009. American Film Institute 2009. Golden Globe Awards 2009. New York Film Critics Awards 2009. Washington Film Critics Awards 2009.
Coraline arrives at her new home in the countryside and finds there is no one to play with. Her parents are horticultural writers who have absolutely no time for her, leaving Coraline no choice but to follow the various strange nooks and crannies of her home until she discovers a small, mysterious doorway. It opens on to a tunnel and, at the other end, there exist another version of her parents, these ones completely indulgent, loving and devoted, with the strange difference that where they should have eyes they have only buttons. The magical world inside this doorway is one that completely captivates Coraline, encouraging her to ignore the warnings from a talkative cat to get out while she can. What she doesn’t know is that appearances can be deceiving, and that everything that seems a beautiful dream in this world is actually the beginnings of a nightmare. This wonderful children’s tale, based on the book by Neil Gaiman, uses stop-motion animation in the most traditional sense to create a colourful yet effectively scary fable about self-reliance. The voice work by all is terrific, particularly the aural appearance of Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French as two batty old actresses who live in the basement of the house that Coraline moves into. Released in 3-D in some theatres, which only enhances the wonder of the experience, this film is highly enjoyable but parents should be warned that the really small tots might find it a bit too intense. On the other hand, isn’t it wonderful to grow up and tell people stories about the movies your irresponsible parents let you watch that made you wet yourself as a kid?