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Coraline is, of course, based on the novel by Neil Gaiman. The titular character is a little girl who moves to a rural setting with her parents, who, while they both write about gardening do not actually want to get dirty. Coraline discovers a gateway to a weird alternate world in which her Other Mother gives her whatever she wants.

The story could easily be a springboard for a Changeling: The Lost story, right down to the Other Mother's inscrutable motives ("Maybe she wants something to love," opines the cat that helps Coraline, "something that isn't her".). The book does a great job of portraying Coraline as curious, resourceful and clever while at the same time not really appreciating her parents and what they're trying to do. The movie leans a little too far toward making her parents boring and neglectful rather than simply busy and out of touch with a tween daughter, but I can forgive that.

I can barely forgive moving the story to America. I don't think it was necessary, and I think that it would have improved the story to keep a British sensibility about it. But at the end of the day, I know, accents are scary, and I'm sure the upcoming Brave will tank because of that. (This is me, rolling my eyes.)

Adding the character of Wybie is another annoyance. It's not because I don't like the character. I do, and I think adding him actually smoothed the transition to America. I like the backstory he adds, what with his grandmother owning the house. I'm not crazy about how there's never any explanation for why the grandmother decided to rent to a family with a kid (Wybie mentions that she usually won't, and there's no indication of why she did it this time, because she clearly knows something's amiss), but I can let that slide. Wybie was added so that Coraline would have someone to talk to. Another suggestion was to have her address the audience directly, which may have been better, but I'm fine with Wybie...except.

Except. Except. He fucking saves her. The boy SWOOPS in at the last minute, YANKS the girl away from peril! SMASHES the Other Mother's hand with a rock! He's the one who gets to be the hero, not Coraline. And that pisses me off, because it should have been Coraline who gets to set up her picnic and trick the Other Mother hand into fall into the well, because that was awesome. But even if we end with a fight (and jeez, Selick, take a cue from good GMs everywhere - it doesn't need to end with a fight), why didn't Coraline get the payoff?

Because she's a girl. That's why. And that kind of makes me upset.

Anyway, apart from that, the movie is pretty awesome. The visuals are amazing in the Other world and appropriately drab in the real one. Forcible and Spink are creepy as the old actresses who can't quite let go. Coraline's mother manages to avoid being a complete bitch, and her father does not manage to avoid being a complete wimp. There's also no "lesson learned" in the movie, unlike the book, where Coraline actively engages with her parents a bit more after losing them. The movie feels a little rushed on that point.

My son loved this movie. It freaks my daughter right the fuck out. Take that for what it's worth. I'd love to see a movie version of it done live-action, set in England and with some way to keep Coraline the main character.

My Grade: B+
Rewatch value: Medium

Next up: Corpse Bride



Soup: 4
Apple: 2
Orange: 1
Pretzel: 1
Hummus: 2
Pudding: 2
Salmon: 8
Taters: 6

Total: 26
Banked: 15

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January 2013

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