Coraline is one of those movies I knew I would love before I even knew anything about it. Between being written by fantasy god Neil Gaiman , directed by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) , and featuring dark and dreamy stop-motion visuals, it just had my name written all over it. Nevermind that I had never read the story*. I knew I had to see this movie the moment I heard about it.
And I was not disappointed.
From beginning to end, Coraline is an absolute delight on the eyes and ears. It was sort of like watching the inhabitants of a Victorian dollhouse come alive and invite the entire toy box over for tea. Every character was lovably quirky, funny, and memorable; including the personalities of the not-always-inanimate objects. Even the voice acting of Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher, two actresses whom I ordinarily don’t care for, was very well done. I found myself so absorbed that it didn’t even occur to me which famous person I was listening to, which is one thing I typically dislike about animated films–I tend to hear the celebrity, not the character.
And the visuals were top-notch, as usual, which seems to be standard for all of Henry Selick’s pictures so far. Kudos to LAIKA animation studio and the hundreds of talented people who brought the world of Coraline to brilliant life.
But Coraline isn’t just eye candy. Like most of Gaiman’s stories, Coraline has a good message, and delivers it with a bit of clever wit wrapped in childlike intrigue. Moviegoers may find Coraline’s storyline similar to Mirrormask , another of Gaiman’s stories-turned-movie, in which a young girl becomes disenchanted with her life and parents, escaping to a dreamworld where the grass seems greener at first, but soon discovers it to be a warped and nightmarish version of her own reality.
I’ve seen some critics already refer to this movie as a classic , and I don’t think I would disagree with that. In many ways, the story of Coraline is reminiscent of another classic, The Wizard of Oz. And like Dorothy, Coraline reminds us that there’s no place like home.
*Note to the book Nazis: Coraline is pretty faithful to its source material.