Released by Laika in 2009, this is one of my all time favorite animated films. As far as non Disney and Pixar films go, Coraline is one of the best in my view. Written and directed by Henry Selick, this film is often confused to be one of Tim Burton's. If a stop motion film is at all offbeat or whimsical, it's gotta be Burton. Even if it's not whimsical at all, it will get confused for one of his. (See last summer's ParaNorman). But despite that small annoyance, Coraline is indeed whimsical and weird, a delightfully eerie tale.
This opening sequence in the title credits gives us a taste of what's to come. Creepy, yet lovely for some reason. Coraline's story, a novel by Neil Gaiman, is actually the perfect one to be told in the stop motion medium, and it's done so exquisitely. Everything is so hand crafted and even looks real.
Our titular heroine is one of the best. She's smart, spunky, and even has blue hair. (Hair goals).
Coraline and her parents have just moved to Oregon (where Laika is). They live in the Pink Palace, a dreary apartment home to some eccentric neighbors. There's Mr. Bobinsky from Russia, who's got a mouse circus. And then there are Ms. Spink and Ms. Forcible, former actresses.
Though past their prime, Coraline sees photos of the two when they were young, and it's quite a clever and funny addition.
Life in the Pink Palace is dull for Coraline, especially with no one her age. There is Wybie (short for Wyborn), but he's weird and annoying. Her parents are too busy with work to pay attention to Coraline, and the food is always some non appetizing muck concocted by her father. It's no wonder then, that Coraline finds a tiny door that opens onto another world, where everything is seemingly perfect. There she meets her "other" mother and father.
|More stunning hand crafted appeal.|
Yes, they've got buttons for eyes, but as her Other mother assures her, they're her better parents. Coraline isn't convinced immediately. That's one of the subtle things about this movie that I love so much. Although her parents and house are much brighter here, Coraline is cautiously curious. It's very realistic, much like the animation and designs.
|The skepticism doesn't win though.|
But the garden! And the treats. It's enough to turn any 11 year old's head. But of course the other world, this Wonderland of sorts isn't all lovely. And it's up to Coraline and her wits to escape, and save the day. And those are some reasons why she's a top notch fictional heroine. The other reasons? Her clothes. Coraline Jones is one of the best dressed animated characters I've ever seen.
All in all, a fantastic adaptation of Gaiman's novel (which I definitely recommend), complete with distinct, funny, memorable, scary characters, a brave and gutsy lead girl, meticulously detailed animation, and a creepy, awesome story.
There's also the added bonus of Joe Ranft's cameo.
So if you haven't seen Coraline yet, do add it to your to watch list!