Take some Alice in Wonderland and mash it up with some Stepford Wives. Then have the incredibly imaginative and batshit crazy Neil Gaiman (Stardust, MirrorMask) write it out into a story. After that, snatch the guy who did The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick, not Tim Burton) and have him make it into a movie with a similar style. What do you end up with? Coraline. And yes, it’s every bit as weird as you think it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad, either.
Coraline (Dakota Fanning) is a bored little girl whose parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) neglect her. All she really has is herself, a neighbor named Wybie (Robert Bailey Jr.) whom she can’t stand, and his cat (Keith David). She also has some other crazy neighbors, including the possibly drunk Russian, jumping-rat-circus ringmaster Mr. Bobinski (Ian McShane), as well as retired theatrics performers, Miss Spink (Jennifer Saunders) and Miss Forcible (Dawn French). But then Coraline discovers a doorway to an alternate universe where her Other Mother and Other Father are pretty awesome, everything is fun, and the food is great. The only catch? Everybody has buttons for eyes, and if Coraline wants to stay in this creepy Wonderland, she’ll have to sew some into her own eyes.
The movie doesn’t really have much of a plot, per se. It’s more of a character study… with a lot of bizarre characters. At times I felt as if the movie was a bit all over the place, but by the time the climax came, everything tied together nicely. It's a nice little fairy tale.
I really don’t have much to say on the film. It had beautiful visuals, interesting music, and a good voice cast. It was funny, suspenseful, and just plain weird at times (but in a fun way). I saw it in 3D, which was a bit disappointing. The film didn’t take full advantage of the effect. Sure it had its poke-out-into-the-audience moments, but they were very few and far between. And there were numerous moments that weren’t taken advantage of that could have been great in 3D. But my favorite use of it, by far, was the tunnel between realms. Every time I saw that, it felt like I was really in the tunnel with Coraline, traveling with her to another world, and that was awesome. But besides all of that, I honestly can’t think of anything else to say. It was a fun time that I wouldn’t mind revisiting.
I Am McLovin!
(P.S. This was a difficult rating to give. I honestly had no idea what to rate it. If anything, it's a very high 'McLovin'. But the film as a whole didn't resonate deep within me, if that makes sense. So I really liked it, almost loved it, but not quite. Or something like that).