5-Word 365 #287 – Coraline

Yes, I realise this is not a documentary. Today’s film is a special request by my roommate’s sister Alma who has been visiting from Finland. I originally had this flick pencilled in for next Friday but we brought it forward. Hope you don’t mind.


Five words that mean wonderful.

Coraline Jones is an 11 year-old girl who has just moved with her parents to the town of Ashland, Oregon. In the converted mansion where they rent an apartment, Coraline finds a small door that opens to a brick wall. Waking in the night, she discovers a tunnel in place of the wall that leads to The Other World, where everything is almost like home but fun, where her other parents are attentive and entertaining, and everyone has black buttons for eyes. Of course not everything is as wonderful as it seems, and the Other Mother has a plan for Coraline…

Adapted from Neil Gaiman’s novel, Henry Selick’s film is a landmark in stop-motion animation. The story is good enough to work in any other medium, but there is an other-worldliness in Selick’s use of puppets – much like in Jan Svankmajer’s Alice – that magnifies the inherent creepiness of the events that surround young Coraline, resulting in a film that is both beautiful and disturbing in equal measure. The voice cast are superb throughout, in particular Dakota Fanning as the fearlessly inquisitive heroine and Teri Hatcher in the dual roles of mother and Other Mother.

I’d like a side order of creepy with my creepy dinner, thank you.

That’s two animated flicks in two days now, and both have been fantastic although they couldn’t be any more different. When it comes to reviewing supposed “family films” in future, I have a new pair of yardsticks.


  1. mistylayne · October 15, 2012

    I love this movie (and book and Neil Gaiman) AND you just referenced Svankmajer’s Alice and I love Svankmajer. This is my favorite post EVER.

    • Ryan McNeely · October 15, 2012

      Favourite post ever?! Well, gosh.

  2. CMrok93 · October 15, 2012

    This film didn’t do anything for me, other than just show me a bunch of pretty designs and colors, while the story just blew and felt as conventional as they get. All of the style was there, but no heart was put into it. Or, at least that’s how I felt. Good review Ryan.

    • Ryan McNeely · October 15, 2012

      This would be a very boring world if everybody liked the same stuff.

  3. Mark Walker · October 17, 2012

    I absloutley loved this movie man. I really wish someone (even selick) would tackle Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. I loved those comics as well.

    • Ryan McNeely · October 17, 2012

      I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never read Sandman. I never really had the time to devote to it. It’s definitely on my list though.

      • Mark Walker · October 17, 2012

        Sandman’s a real treat Ryan. As is Gaiman’s novel American Gods. Check that out too if you haven’t already.

      • Ryan McNeely · October 17, 2012

        Yep, that too is on the list! Who could film Sandman? Only one name I can think of: Guillermo del Toro.

      • Mark Walker · October 17, 2012

        Great choice man. I’d go with him first.

    • mistylayne · October 17, 2012

      Sandman is phenomenal. Do you think anyone could do it justice in movie form though? I’m actually trying to sit here picturing it in my head and am having trouble doing it. Not Neil Gaiman, but I though they made such a mess with Watchmen and I would hate to see something like that happen to Sandman. Ahhh….I want to go re-read them now….

      • Mark Walker · October 17, 2012

        I actually liked the Watchmen and was a big fan of the graphic novel as well. That’s a good question on a perfect fit for Sandman though. Chris Nolan automatically comes to mind but someone like Terry Gilliam could be good. I’m sure there are better but I must think further.
        Glad to hear of another fan Misty.

Go ahead, punk. Make my day.

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