Coraline is a pre-teen girl who just moved into an apartment in a decrepit old house with parents that all but ignore her. She’s forced to eat like a rabbit and mom and dad seem more interested in the vegetable books they write than their child.
Sharing the house with them is a strange old man who used to be a circus performer and two former Vaudevillian old maids. A creepy kid and a skinny old cat round out the cast.
The house is haunted. Coraline discovers a long, corrugated passage that leads to the “other” house with the “other mother” and the “other” father.
Unlike Coraline’s real parents, they spoil her rotten with gourmet food and tantalizing desserts. The “other” vaudevillians and the “other” circus performer put on amazing shows. Everything in the alternative world is perfect except—all the people have buttons for eyes.
On the surface, Coraline is a terrific 3-D stop-motion animated feature. The temptation is to think it’s a “children’s story.” Parents will pack up the kiddos, haul them in by the score and love the “there’s no place like home” moral.
And, no doubt, kids of all ages will enjoy the exceptional effects. They’ll giggle with glee as skittery, off-kilter characters pop in and out of the story, and as widgets and gadgets, imaginative thingies fairly fly from the screen and sometimes sit so close to your nose you’ll be tempted to touch.
Those are the basics.
Dig a little deeper and Neil Gaiman’s (Stardust, MirrorMask) is very original and award-winning story, and Gaiman and director Henry Selick’s (The Nightmare before Christmas) screenplay is a superb horror story.
Punctuating this quite bizarre and very entertaining story are places where Selick and the animators do such a good job that you’ll swear it’s a four-dimensional movie and not three.
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Rated PG for mature themes. It opens Friday, Feb. 6 at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.