Be Careful What You Wish For

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Be Careful What You Wish For

Review by jb.

A modern day Alice In WonderlandCoraline transports you to a world full of imagery, enchantment and colorful characters.

Right from the opening title sequence, the audience is immediately brought intoCoraline‘s world following mechanical hands that deconstructs and guts an old doll and watches as it carefully and skillfully builds a doll that looks just like Coraline. For all you Neil Gaiman fans, he does not disappoint and for all you future Neil Gaiman fans, this will be the film that does it. With a running time of 1 hour and 40 min, Henry Selick (director of The Nightmare Before Christmas) has made the longest stop-motion animated film, and has also made history by filming it completely in 3D.



Now, this isn’t the 3D from the 80’s with those cheap red and blue cardboard glasses that never really worked except for giving you a headache; the technology has really matured and is quite successfully used in this film. If you do have a chance to see it in 3D, I definitely recommend that you do, but in regular 2D is also just as good.

Coraline (Dakota Fanning) and her family arrive in their new home at the Pink Palace Apts, and right away the mood is set. Everything is overcast and gray, if it isn’t raining, then there’s always the threat of it looming. Our young heroine, with her bright blue hair and yellow rain jacket is already too colorful for this world. As she explores her new surroundings and new home, Coraline discovers that it’s just plain boring here. The only other kid around is Wybie (Robert Bailey Jr.), and he’s just a little weird and just a little too annoying for her. He leaves a mini Coraline doll for her one day, andCoraline‘s adventures start to take off.

The doll, you can say, helps Coraline discover a sealed off tiny door behind the wallpaper. After bugging her mom (Teri Hatcher) relentlessly to open the door for her,Coraline (and the audience) all hold their breath as her mother turns the key and slowly pulls the door open. What’s on the other side? Well, a brick wall of course! Now we all know that in these childhood fantasy tales, the adults are oblivious to any of the magic that surrounds them, so there couldn’t be anything else but a boring old brick wall. It isn’t until that night, when everyone’s asleep, that Coraline follows a squeaky little mouse back to that door.

Through that door and on the other side….is Coraline‘s house. What?!? Ah, but the twist, everything is colorful and bright, and her parents do whatever she wants and ALWAYS have time for her, not like her parents back in the “real world”. This is where the 3D acid trip really kicks in. Not only is this alternate “other world” more colorful and bright, but it’s also more 3-Dish than the bland gray “real world”. Another thing, in this “other world” everyone has buttons for eyes.

Her “Other Mother” cooks, while her “Other Father” sings, and the neighbors are friendlier and she is the center of everyone’s attention.

Coraline loves it here, and everything is perfect….or is it? As Coraline bounces between the two worlds and two sets of parents, neighbors and Wybies, she learns the moral lesson that is featured in the tagline of the film “Be careful what you wish for”.

Set to a wonderfully executed score by Bruno Coulais and They Might Be Giants, all the components of this film come together beautifully. There’s something enchanting in this dark and creepy fantasy world that Gaiman and Selick have created for us. It’s definitely worth a look, even if you haven’t read the book. And for those of you who have been following this film and are “in the know”, wait for a little something after the credits roll.


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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

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