MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +3

Content: +2

Stop-motion animation with the voices of Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, John Hodgman, Ian McShane. Written & directed by Henry Selick.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Combining the visionary imaginations of two premier fantasists, director Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas and author Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Coraline is a suspenseful stop-motion animated feature thriller done stereoscopic 3-D.

Coraline Jones (voiced by Dakota Fanning) is a girl of 11 who is feisty, curious, and adventurous beyond her years.  She and her parents (Teri Hatcher, John Hodgman) have just relocated from Michigan to Oregon. Missing her friends and finding her parents to be distracted by their work, Coraline tries to find some excitement in her new environment.  She is befriended – or, as she sees it, is annoyed – by a local boy close to her age, Wybie Lovat (Robert Bailey Jr.); and visits her older neighbors, eccentric British actresses Miss Spink and Forcible (Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French) as well as the arguably even more eccentric Russian Mr. Bobinsky (Ian McShane).  After these encounters, Coraline seriously doubts that her new home can provide anything truly intriguing to her…

…but it does; she uncovers a secret door in the house.  Walking through the door and then venturing through an eerie passageway, she discovers an alternate version of her life and existence.  On the surface, this parallel reality is similar to her real life – only much better.  The adults, including the solicitous Other Mother (also voiced by Teri Hatcher), seem much more welcoming to her.  Coraline is more the center of attention there – even from the mysterious Cat (Keith David).  She begins to think that this Other World might be where she belongs.  But when her wondrously off-kilter, fantastical visit turns dangerous and Other Mother schemes to keep her there, Coraline musters all of her resourcefulness, determination, and bravery to get back home – and save her family.

PREVIEW REVIEW: It’s a clever, if somewhat macabre children’s tale, ending with a somewhat darker toned theme than the first half. Coraline creates this alternate world, a duplicate of her own only with involved parents who give-in to her every whim. But Coraline begins to suspect something’s amiss. (Maybe the fact that everyone in this modified world has buttons for eyes should have been her first clue.) And if the theme “there’s no place like home” sounds familiar – think back to a time when a Kansas girl got bumped on the head and found herself clicking her heels on a yellow brick road. Perhaps not in the same league with that immortal classic, Coraline is no less an inventive, well-structured animated delight that will most likely be remembered come next awards season.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Focus Features

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: Two minor expletives, but no harsh language.

Profanity: Variations of the expression “Oh my God” are heard at least three times.

Violence: The violence is more bizarre than cruel, with situations such as a cat biting a little mouse only to discover the true nature of the vermin – he becomes a rat; a plant attacks Coraline, but she is able to free herself from its tentacles; some frightening scenes include the reshaping of some people from this parallel world, they become scary looking; the “other” mother becomes demonic looking in one scene, showing the real nature of her character; “other” father is seen chasing the lead, then falls through a bridge into the water below and drowns, the water freezing over him; other chase scenes occur.

Sex: None

Nudity: Two lady circus performers appear scantily clad, one a large-breasted woman in a brief bikini.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: None

Other: Coraline is unhappy at home until she realizes her busy parents love her; though the film is entertaining, the scary scenes may unnerve little ones.

Running Time: 110 minutes
Intended Audience: Family

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.