MPAA Rating: PG | Rating: ★★★
Release year: 2009
Genre: Animated, Fantasy Director: Selick

Man, this film was weird. Was this meant to be a kids’ film? I’m not too sure. There are alternate universes, dancing circus mice, ghosts, and buttons sewn into eyeballs. Set in a large house turned into apartments in the rainy northwest, Coraline is an alternate Alice in Wonderland, a story of a little girl entering a dark world full of strange and danger wonders. When Coraline’s family moves into the house, her life seems to have taken a downward spiral. Friendless and bored, her parents don’t pay her much attention. When she discovers a tiny door leading into another “better” world, she becomes quite enchanted with the possibilities of this new realm.

While the story of Coraline is interesting and original, it’s the aesthetics that make this film remarkable. The longest stop-motion film created yet, Coraline is filled with magical characters and a darkly original look that has hints of Tim Burton’s influence (This is the same director who did The Nightmare Before Christmas). The entire environment is bewitching; the use of colors and incredible attention to detail make this a film worth viewing just to see what can be done with stop-motion animation.

The ongoing theme in Coraline is a prevalent one in our culture–the allure of a false world over the harshness of the real one. In the alternate world, Coraline is the center of attention. Her “other” mother and father dote upon her, showering her with gifts, food, and affection. The only catch is that she must sew buttons into her eyes. It reminds me of the alternate worlds we can create through technology. When we’re spending more time playing Wii and X-Box online than reading or creating with our imagination, something has gone awry. When my text messages outweigh my personal conversations, I’ve missed something. When my Facebook avatar becomes my identity, I’ve just embraced my buttons. Coraline realizes that despite her real parents’ flaws, they truly do love her with a messy love that isn’t always perfect, but is still authentic.

It begs the question, what are my buttons? What are the things that are blinding me from reality, from seeing and embracing the truth, no matter how harsh? How am I self-medicating and choosing to create a false reality instead of working on bettering the true one? Coraline‘s story may have some plot holes and flaws, but its message is a timely one. While not quite a kids’ film, this modern-day fairy tale has artistic merits that are worth your viewing.

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