Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) and her family have just relocated to the Pacific Northwest from Michigan. Her parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) are busy working on their gardening website and have no time for Coraline, leaving her alone in their sparse, unpacked house. Bored and lonely, Coraline seeks amusement from her building's colorful tenants: Mr. Bobinski (Ian McShane), a Russian, beet-eating circus performer, and Miss Spink and Miss Forcible (Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders), two former stage actresses obsessed with Scottish terriers. Still, Coraline is left wanting, and she finds little help from a mysterious cat (Keith David) or Wybie (Robert Bailey, Jr.), the annoyingly chatty, mask-wearing, electric bike-riding kid next door.
It's not until Coraline finds a small, secret door in her house that she finds the perfect world she's been dreaming about. There she meets her Other Mother and Other Father, who cook Coraline her favorite meals, sing her songs, and give her all the love and attention she's been missing. In this resplendent new life, there's only one catch.
Everyone has buttons for eyes. This creepy addition isn't the only dark twist that Coraline takes (and for a family movie, it can be, at turns, fairly dark), but as director Henry Selick told Reelzchannel: "I'm more concerned about the parents being scared...the eight-year-olds can hold their mom's hand."
Don't worry, moms and dads, Coraline isn't The Dark Knight-dark, it's more Brothers Grimm, old fable-dark, and considering its message -- that you should appreciate what you have in life, not what you don't -- Coraline earns it.
With an inventive script by Selick from Neil Gaiman's terrific novel, and some perfect vocal performances from its cast, the star of Coraline is its arresting visuals. Recalling old Christmas specials like Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer, Coraline has a classic look with its stop-motion animation that's more fresh and innovative than its Selick-directed precursor, Nightmare Before Christmas. Yet it's the 3-D that gives the world of Coraline its biggest appeal. This isn't the 3-D of an action/horror movie, with pick axes and dazzling stunts springing from the screen right into your face, this is 3-D that envelops you into a richly detailed and imaginative Alice in Wonderland-esque world and keeps you transfixed until the lights come up.
Coraline is a movie that will appeal to adults and children, alike. What kid hasn't dreamed of running away to find that perfect place where all your problems are solved? The scary part is finding it.
Being careful what you wish for is always a good lesson, but with a movie like Coraline, a genuinely enjoyable, beautifully envisioned, family fable, there's little else you could wish for.ReelzChannel Rating: