Directed by Henry Selick
Starring: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, John Hodgman, Ian McShane
Coraline Jones (Fanning) is a quirky little girl in a new home. Her mom (Hatcher) and dad (Hodgman) have relocated their family to get a new start. While her parents work constantly, Coraline begins to feel neglected and searches for ways to entertain herself. When she finds a hidden door to another reality, she thinks she’s found a better version of her life. As she explores this new world she begins to realize that something sinister is behind it all.
It’s too bad that I missed out on this one in 2009. It’s a visual delight that is developed from a wonderful story. The idea came from the 2002 novella by Neil Gaiman which won numerous awards upon being published. Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) later stepped in to write the screenplay and also direct the film. He was lucky to get stars like Dakota Fanning (I Am Sam), Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives) and John Hodgman (The Invention of Lying) to take on some of the voices. The film also features the voices of Ian McShane (Deadwood) and Keith David (Platoon). This movie was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, losing out to Up.
The animation in this movie is beautiful. It’s an impressive feat to do something this intricate with stop-motion and other labor intensive processes. It paid off, making a movie that keeps you focused on the amazing images from the first moment through the end of the film. Thankfully, this movie isn’t like most cartoon which tend to operate on the assumption that no one has patience for a real story. Instead this movie is set within a constant setting that allows for the mood to set in and create an astonishing little world.
The voices in this one are done nicely. I think I got what I expected from most of the actors, but Teri Hatcher was a nice surprise. She really brings out something special in her character that was really necessary for the whole movie to work. Overall, they chose all of the voices well, and no one seemed out-of-place.
My only criticism for this movie is the depth of the story. I felt like there was a lot more to be had from this one. Instead, the movie focuses on the magic of the moment, something they might have been able to scale back on. It’s not a bad story, but I think it needed just a bit more detail and background.
This movie is really a good one for the whole family. The story is a bit dark, but it’s got a whimsical vibe that makes it fun to watch. If you’re a fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas this one might be worth checking out. I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.
Running Time: 100 minutes