Animation film voiced by Dakoa Fanning, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.Directed by Henry Selik.
Rated PG (menacing themes and scary scenes). 100mins.
Audiences may remember an idiosyncratic animated film from the early 1990s, The Nightmare Before Chistmas, which was re-released in 3D in 2006. Henry Selik was the film-maker responsible for this strange mixture of the serious and the comic, the gentle and the frightening. Selik also directed an animated version of Roald Dahl's James and the Gian Peach in 1996.
Selik has spent some years writing, directing and supervising the animation for Coraline. It is an adaptation of a children's book by British Neil Gaiman (the author of the book and director of the film fantasy, Mirrormask).
The animation here resembles that of The Nightmare before Christmas, many stick characters, but also some large and buxom characters, two singers voiced by Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.
The setting is a remote building in the country side, apartments where Coraline's mother and father have moved. Coraline has not settled and wanders around, befriended by a cat and the grandson of the former owner. When she opens a door, she finds and enters an alternate world with a kindly Other Mother and Father as well as different versions of the neighbours.
Coraline is in the tradition of Alice exploring Wonderland or Dorothy on the road to Oz. She has to find her path, be deceived by the Other Mother, in the vein of Alice's malicious queens or Dorothy's witches. When she finds that the Other Mother and Father want her to stay but she must sew buttons over her eyes, Coraline draws the line and begins a struggle to free herself, rescue her parents who are trapped in this other world. The young boy is her ally and helps. The cat (who is able to talk in the alternate world) helps as well.
The youngest girls in the audience might find it all a bit frightening but older girls should enjoy it (probably not most of the boys). Parents and adults will find much to admire in the skill of the animation as well as the use of 3D.
Dakota Fanning is the voice of Coraline and makes her a rather demanding, strong-minded and strong-willed child (along the lines of the precocious little girls Dakota Fanning used to play some years ago). Desperate housewives Teri Hatcher voices both mothers. An entertaining oddity.
UPI Out August 6
Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.