MONKEY REVIEW: Coraline

February 8, 2009

coralineAdapted from Neil Gaiman’s novel for children by writer/director Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas), Coraline tells the story of a dissatisfied young girl who discovers a strange, hidden doorway in her new home, which conceals a portal to another, very idealized version of her life. Coraline’s other parents, who have buttons for eyes, as do all living things there, focus on her in a way her harried parents, both writers, seemingly do not, and life in the other version of her home, which is something of a funhouse filled with fine food and luminous wonders, revolves completely around her. Her other parents, especially her other mother, pressure Coraline to come live with them forever, but Coraline begins to suspect all is not what it seems there. Storywise, Coraline is a bit familiar and not always as involving as one would hope, but visually, it’s frequently dazzling, and if you’re at all a fan of Selick’s past work with stop motion animation, then you should absolutely see this movie, because it’s his best work yet. Selick also makes memorable and often startling use of the 3D format, though I think Coraline would be just as dazzling in non-3D format as well. It’s a visual triumph, and if Coraline‘s story were as strong as its visual presentation, it might’ve been something of a classic. Alas, however, that’s just not the case here. It’s worth noting that it does have some good music, including a couple of original songs, one by They Might Be Giants. As a kid’s movie, it’s probably not suitable for very young children, who will probably find it too disturbing, but it’s fine for older children and adults, who will find it creepy and often eerie, if not particularly scary.

MONKEY RATING: TWO BUTTON EYED MONKEYS

(For a brief explanation of the Monkey Review rating system, click here.)

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