Wow. Going into this movie, I figured I'd enjoy it but I never counted on the depth of my love for this movie after today.
Coraline is a story about a young girl, freshly moved to the rainy woods of the Northwest with her loving but extremely distracted and dysfunctional parents. Their new home is a gorgeous old Victorian house, transformed into apartments with a swirling stone garden behind it and eccentric neighbors above and below her. While her parents are utterly absorbed in the gardening catalog that they are writing, Coraline is left by herself in a huge, mysterious house. As she explores, she meets a slightly off-kilter neighbor boy, whose grandmother owns the house, an even more off-kilter circus showman and his trained kangaroo rats, and a couple of old burlesque dancers who are off their rockers. One night, Coraline discovers a small door in the wall, locked by an old skeleton key with a button on the end. By day, the door is bricked up, but that night, led by the mice, she discovers a mirror universe, where her parents are loving and friendly, good cooks and successful, and her neighbors are even more over the big top than before. They also have buttons sewed onto their faces where their eyes should be.
Each night, Coraline escapes into the other life, where she plays with her increasingly odd "Other parents" and the mirror version of her talkative neighbor friend, who is mute in the night realm. Then, one night, her "Other mother" asks Coraline to stay forever with them...All she has to do is give up her eyes, and sew on buttons.
From there, Coraline's worlds begin to go creepier and crazier, as her "Other Mother" does all she can to steal Coraline forever!
This movie was phenomenal. Based on a story by Neal Gaiman, author of many respected comic books and novels, and directed by Henry Sellick, the director and animator for Nightmare Before Christmas, the flick is a seamless combination of traditional stop motion animation, computer wizardry, and pure, unadulterated magic. The voice acting is all flawless, and perfectly cast, especially Dakota Fanning as Coraline, and the Oregon landscape of the movie, with drizzly days and creepy crags made me very homesick for a home I don't yet know. Every once in a while, you find a movie where everything just clicks together seamlessly to create a perfect union, and this movie is that kind of rare beast. From the music (By French composer Bruno Coulais and They Might Be Giants) to the design, to the humor, to the slow building sense of wrongness, everything in this was flawless. Coraline was filmed in true 3D, so when you go in a properly equipped theater, they give you a pair of magic Clark Kent glasses to wear. I've always wanted to love 3D, but for me and my heavily prescribed glasses, they've never seemed to work for me, but the new digital theater 3D is great. Frankly, events like this could be the savior of theaters. (Along with my long professed plan to re-introduce serials...) While there were a few events that went oddly colored and double for me (Though not for Lindsay, so I assume it was the results of the glasses having to perch over my regular glasses) the rest of the movie had an amazing level of depth, texture and color, from any angle or position in the theater. I loved it.
I had a friend tell me that she loved this movie more than Nightmare Before Christmas, a movie that she and Lindsay both revere, and about halfway into Coraline, my wife turned to me, and wholeheartedly agreed. It is probably one of the best animated films I have ever seen, both scary and hilarious at the same time. That said, it is obviously not for everyone. Some people might be a bit dismayed at the themes in the movie, and I would strongly discourage any youngsters attending, as there are a lot of scary moments, creepy creatures, a general feeling of dread at times and, well, the old burlesque dancers that live in the basement aren't completely retired....
I loved Coraline ever so much!