What’s Not to Love about Coraline?

by Amy Kraft on February 7, 2009

I know what you’re thinking, two movies in less that two weeks? Yes, it’s a mommy record, but I was very excited to go see Coraline, and I had opportunity – a match made in heaven. I hadn’t realized that it was in 3-D and I bristled at the $14.50 ticket. Better be worth it, I thought. 


In retrospect, I would have paid even more. In fact, I’ll probably go see it again. First up, the animation that had captivated me in the trailers is beautiful. The choices are so imaginative and the characters so expressive. I was worried about the 3-D until about 2 minutes in, as the opening titles floated above a doll-making scene with remarkable depth of field that really made the objects seem tangible. The only times the 3-D was distracting was when there was anything moving quickly, like little animals scurrying about. 

The film has classic storytelling. Coraline and her parents have moved into the Pink Palace apartments. Her parents, working towards a gardening magazine deadline, are too focused on their respective computer screens to spend time with Coraline. They barely even really listen to her. (Note to self – this looked too familiar. Must look up from computer screen when daughter is talking even if working…) As Coraline fills time by exploring the house, she discovers a tiny door.  It leads not to the subconscious of John Malkovich as you might imagine, rather a bizarro world with a button-eyed “other mother” and “other father”. This bizarro world seems like paradise to Coraline… until it doesn’t. 


The best thing about the movie, though, is Coraline herself. She’s quirky, funny, and fearless – one of the best girl characters I’ve seen in a long time. She’s such a strong character that she more than balances out the bad, bad mother. 

Based on the trailer, I assumed the movie would be too creepy or scary for Olive, but as I was watching it I wished she was there with me. It’s full of things that she would love, particularly the circus-performing mice, the talking cat, and the animated flowers. I think it’s right on the cusp of what she would find too scary. If she were 5 or older, I wouldn’t think twice about taking her. 

I confess, I never read the Neil Gaiman book that the movie was based on, but now I feel inspired to. I also have his more recent The Graveyard Book, the recent Newbery Medal winner, on my reading list. I marvel at men who can create such cool, relatable girl characters. Bravo!

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