Sign up for our newsletters   

Baltimore City Paper home.

film Home > Movie Reviews



By Wendy Ward | Posted 2/4/2009

Wonderfully dark and amazingly tactile, Coraline uses the same stop-motion animation technique used in director Selick's other films, The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach Based on the Neil Gaiman children's book, Coraline tells the sometimes very scary story of a little girl named Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning) whose move with her parents into an old pink Victorian in the forest of Ashland, Ore., spurs an adventure into another realm where she must use her wit and courage to save not just herself, but her parents and even the spirits of children that came before her.

Coraline and her seed catalog-writing parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) move to the run-down and dreary Pink Palace apartments during the rainy season--year-round in Oregon. Coraline's mother is preoccupied, as is her father, too busy on their computers to pay much attention to Coraline. Her neighbors include the circusy Mr. Bobinsky (Ian McShane) and his fleet of performing mice, aging drama queens Miss Spink (Jennifer Saunders) and Miss Forcible (Dawn French), and the lonely Wybie Lovat (Robert Bailey Jr.), a boy Coraline's age whose name stands for "Why Born." Cue the sad music.

Coraline finds a bricked-over mini-door in the house that, once night strikes and the mice show her the way, offers passage to discover her "other" family: a mother who cooks her favorite foods and a father who dotes on her. She visits at night until the other mother and father finally offer her a choice: stay and sew buttons on her eyes like all the characters in the "other" place and stay forever, or. . . .

Other mother and father are bad news, but it's the other mother who is truly sinister and the mastermind behind enticing and keeping the souls of little children--Coraline being just one of many. It's not easy to decide at what age kids will delight in the real fabric on the figures, the amazing scenes of coordinated jumping mice in a circus ring, the purring and furry wise black cat (Keith David), and the yipping snap dragons in the garden and not be completely frightened of the scary rats, dolls stuffed with sawdust, and web of deception woven by the spidery "other" mother. The fact that Coraline is 3D makes it all the more "real."

E-mail Wendy Ward

Comments powered by Disqus
CP on Facebook
CP on Twitter