Stop-motion film, directed by Harry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas). Coraline (Dakota Fanning) has just moved into a new apartment building, and is perpetually bored. Her workaholic parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) have no time for her, and are generally annoyed at her presence. She discovers a new world inside a wall, a whimsical place where flowers tickle people and there’s an alternate version of everyone she knows—except they have creepy button eyes. However, she enjoys this world, as her Other parents pay attention to her and cook her favorite foods. But if she wants to stay, she needs to have buttons, too. As Coraline, ever the nonconformist, rebels against her Other Mother, she finds out a horrifying reality under the pleasant facade.
I give this movie high marks for many things, but pacing is not one of them. It starts out very slowly, taking quite a while to establish the characters. Not that it’s boring—it just makes you wait for the creepiness to follow. Actually, it may be a little too creepy for the very young ones at times. For example the scene when the Other version of Coraline’s friend Wybie has his mouth sewn up into a smile because he made a sad face.
Besides the scary parts, there are a few lewd touches. Coraline’s neighbors are two elderly ladies who used to perform in bawdy shows; their Other selves still do. In one scene, Miss Forcible, who has boobs bigger than her head, is wearing nothing but a thong and pasties. (My friend Paula put on the movie for her four-year-old son and left the room; she returned and thought he was watching a different movie.) If all that doesn’t bother you, you may find after watching that your children appreciate you more—it’s hard to be a worse parent than Other Mother.
I also like the strong female characters. Coraline is brave and adventurous and works as a team with Wybie without being saved by him. Meanwhile, Other Mother is all-powerful, but her husband is a big dumb pumpkin. When this came out in theatres, I couldn’t wait to see it. But wait I ended up doing, until recently. Now I can’t wait to see it again. Check it out with the little ones, though you might want to skip the pasties scene.