Mr. Movie

'Coraline' gets red carpet treatment in Portland (w/ photo gallery)

PORTLAND -- You see them on TV at the Oscars and other events, but it’s nothing like the real thing.

Red carpet events are a zoo. Reporters, photographers, TV people and on-lookers from around the nation jostle each other for position, some shouting out questions, others quietly catching the attention of the celebs.

Red carpet events also lots of fun.

On Thursday, Feb. 5, the 3-D stop-motion animated feature Coraline had its world premiere at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland. I was invited to attend, do some one-on-one interviews and to interview the stars, writer of the book, director and others on the red carpet.

Director/screenwriter Henry Selick began working on Coraline in 2000 when novelist Neil Gaiman sent him a pre-print copy of his book. About five years ago, Selick got serious about the production, hired Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher and a few others to do the voices.

Now Coraline is a world-class movie.

“I’m proud of the crew and the movie and the studio. It’s a huge gamble to do one of these, especially if you’re not Pixar or one of the other studios,” he told me as he walked the red carpet.

And he should be proud. Trust me on this one, you will not want to miss Coraline in 3-D. The concept is brilliant, the writing superb, the acting impeccable and you have never seen effects quite like these. In my review of Coraline I said they are so stunning they almost feel like four dimensions, not three.

That is not an understatement.

Though it’s animated and 3-D and is definitely a children’s movie, Coraline is also a subtle horror movie and one parents will probably enjoy as much or more than their kids. And the movie has a terrific moral.

“Be happy with the miserable parents that you have. Stop wishing for fantastic ones that give you everything you want,” Selick said of a film that he says is definitely not “cookie-cutter entertainment.”

“It connects to a longer tradition of fairy tales that has been with us for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. This is about an ordinary girl with no super powers and weapons. She meets extraordinary evil and comes back with appreciation for the real life she has,” he said.

Dakota Fanning gives main character Coraline her voice. She told me she agrees with Selick that the film has an excellent moral.

“There are a lot of morals you can take away," Fanning said. "Like the poster says, be careful what you wish for because it’s not going to be better than what you really have and you should appreciate what you’re given.”

Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher does the voice of Coraline’s mother and the film’s villain the “other” mother. Hatcher worked on the project for three years and especially had fun doing the voice of the “other” mother.

“The ‘other’ mother’s voice is soooo creepy,” Hatcher said.

It’s also perfect pitch villainy. Hatcher’s work, like her co-stars, is exemplary.

In the end, Gaiman put everything in perspective and explains why you need to see this movie.

“I want them [the viewer] to feel like they’ve gone on the equivalent of one of those wonderful rides where for just for a moment they think they’ve mis-estimated the speed of the ride, when we get to the top of this thing we’re all going to be thrown off and we’re all going to dieeeeeeeeee.”

And he’s right. Coraline is the next best thing to a thrill ride.

See it once to get the plot and a second time to enjoy the details.

Early next week, I’ll post the three separate interviews I did with Selick, Gaiman and Fanning.

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