The Night Out: Coraline (2009), or Stop-Motion’s Glorious Return

13 02 2009
Misunderstood quirky children IN 3-D!!!!!!

Misunderstood quirky children IN 3-D!!!!!!

Welcome to another Night Out! Where the best and brightest of today’s films still playing in theaters are put under the microscope and analyzed like the pieces of meat they are… This one is quite interesting. Neil Gaiman, one of America’s smartest and quirkiest writers of both comic books and regular books (from Britain ūüė¶ )wrote a children’s novella in 2002 concerning the adventures of a plucky young girl named Coraline Jones. Normally, Gaiman’s work is a bit darker, a bit more gothic, a bit more adult. But usually when a writer makes a transition into children’s fare, he tones everything down a tad. Not Neil Gaiman, however. He has everything turned up to his usual levels except for the foul language and the tasteful but sexy nudity. And that brings up something I have seen more and more of lately, namely the new archetype in the stereotype pool that is American child characters, the quirky kid. The odd but affable loner child who ends up saving the day due to whatever random knowledge “nerds” and “outcasts” seem to have in their eclectic heads at the time. I myself keep running into this stereotype “loser”, most recently in everyone’s favorite paranormal teen romance, Twilight, wherein we find that the main character, Bella Swan, is such a Quote-Unquote “quiet loner” that she becomes everyone’s best friend in her new school in a matter of hours. I have no problem with the “loser” saving the day, folks, let me make myself clear. Just make it genuine if one decides to use this archetype frequently, that is all I ask. Don’t make all lonely losers out to be heroes and silent saviours, because as someone who has tasted the bitter dregs of the nerd/loser/loner community first-hand as both an observer and a participant, this is not always the case. Luckily, this movie knows just how to balance nerd fantasy with reality. It is just one of many things this film does right.

Coraline Jones is a plucky, independent girl who has moved with her mother and father out to a new apartment. Her mother and father love her a lot, but they are both very busy people who have some sort of gardening catalogue to finish and they do not have much time for her. Not to mention that every other person in the apartment complex is old and extremely eccentric (and they all call her Caroline, much to her chagrin). She starts exploring the inside of the new place, and discovers a small door that leads to nothing but a brick wall. And so, being a deterred and very bored adolescent she decides to go exploring the area around her new abode. Along the way she meets possibly the only other kid her age in the immediate area, a young Tim Burton (I jest; the boy’s name is Wybie, but the face and the manner of dress is uncanny). Anyway, Wybie says that his grandmother won’t let him go to Coraline’s apartment complex because it is dangerous, although she won’t say why. This piques Coraline’s interest, but not as much as what as what happens that night. Because that night she comes to find that the little door doesn’t just lead to a brick wall, but another world where everything is wonderful but nothing is as it seems.

I’ll keep the plot to a minimum, because it has already been let loose all over the place. I think it would have been a fun experience to see this movie without any idea of what was going on, so if any of you have that opportunity go in to the theater with an empty canvas.

This is such an entertaining picture! I had a really good time at this one. This is one of the first stop-motion animated movies that has blown me away in quite some time. Everything in this world is hand crafted, and it looks like a very comfy, broken-in world Coraline lives in. Even the recent Corpse Bride has nothing on the raw style on tap here. I saw this in 3-D, and I have to say that it was not very gimmicky and also very enjoyable. I am very excited to see a good family movie. It has been a while. I thought the last one they made was Whale Rider

The character of Coraline is a good mix of quirky loner and straight-up childish bitch. I enjoy how she is not some Wunderkind amazing girl who is just begging to be understood, but rather a more realistically rounded person who is spiky and sarcastic from her experiences¬† as (and some could say her desire to be) a loner. It was interesting for me to watch a PLAUSIBLE LITTLE GIRL in a movie! There are too many little girls draped in stereotype by Hollywood these days. Here’s to more girls like Coraline, who really make you want to know her (at least until you grate on one another’s nerves.

One more note about the cast. Celebrity voice actors are lazy and worthless. It is a proven fact. Don’t believe me? GO watch Ice Age. Any of ’em. Watch that and tell me that Ray Romano is doing anything besides talking and raising the marquee value of the film. The same goes for Teri Hatcher. She is Coraline’s mom, and she is just talking. it is the laziest form of art for these people, and I demand that Teri Hatcher give all of that voice “acting” money to charity considering she did not earn it by working but instead used her celebrity as an invisible money¬† grabbing claw. SHE IS JUST TALKING. I’m just typing; where’s my check? Dakota Fanning at least puts on a bit of a Northerner’s accent for her leading role as Coraline, who moved from Michigan, and I appreciate it. Thanks.

So in the end, other than lazy voice-acting raising my ire, this was a very fun movie. Go watch it with your friends and family. And especially watch it in 3-D. Let your imagination run wild and finally have a good time at a family movie. I give Coraline 8 young Tim Burtons out of 10! Enjoy!

See you tomorrow for a surprise film! Oh, boy!