Friday, January 16, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For

Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) is bored in her new home until she finds a secret door and discovers an alternate version of her life on the other side. On the surface, this parallel reality is eerily similar to her real life and the people in it – only much better. But when this seemingly perfect world turns dangerous, and her other parents (including her Other Mother voiced by Teri Hatcher) try to trap her forever, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness, determination and bravery to escape this increasingly perilous world – and save her family.

Coraline (Not Caroline!) has moved into a big house in the country with her parents. The house is shared by elderly, retired actresses Miss Forcible (Jennifer Saunders) and Miss Spink (Dawn French), who live in the lower flat, and Mr. Bobinski (Ian McShane), who claims he trains mice, who lives in the upper flat. Coraline is a typical young girl, curious and easily bored. While waiting out a rainy day, she decides to explore the big house and finds a door with a brick wall behind it. Her mother (Hatcher) explains the house was separated off when it was turned into apartments. But Coraline cannot help but be inquisitive about the mysterious door, especially after it is open when she knows she saw her mother lock it. One day, with her parents away, Coraline opens the door to find the brick wall gone and another apartment on the other side; an apartment almost like her own and yet subtly different. She steps through to find herself in an alternate world. Here, her parents are attentive to her every need and are not busy with work all the time. But her new mother is not quite like her real mom. Her fingers are longer and bonier, and she has coat buttons where her eyes should be. She wants Coraline to stay with her forever! Coraline retreats back to her apartment only to find her parents missing. Now, she’ll have to go back to the other mom and use all of her wits and resources to find her real parents and escape back to her world. Coraline is a work of dark, and sometimes disturbing beauty. The last third of the movie features very intense imagery as Coraline gambles in a game of wits with her otherworldly mother. As Coraline makes progress in their wager, we see the new mom’s loving, cheerful guise begin to fade as a darker side manifests itself. Besides her new parents there are twisted versions of the elderly women and Mr. Bobinski to contend with although Caroline will find aid from an unexpected source as she uncovers the secrets in the other apartment. Coraline is a young girl who has some complaints: life is boring, people mispronounce her name as Caroline and her parents don't give her much attention. She discovers a house similar to her own on the other side of a door in her new house where things seem better. But Coraline soon finds herself a prisoner held captive by her "other mother", a paler (and evil) version of her own mother. In order to escape, Coraline bets her that she can rescue the trapped souls that her other mother has captured and all she has to help her are a talking black cat (Keith David) and a stone with a hole in it. The young adult novel of the same name got high marks for writing style, mood and characterizations. The scenes here are as vivid as anything done before and in 3-D I was drawn in instantly. I felt like I was there right alongside Coraline, exploring the mysterious world parallel to our own. The other mother, for example, is a much paler version of Coraline's real mother and has big, black buttons sewn over her eyes. And all she wants is to do the same to Coraline. Yikes! The characters are very well done too. Coraline is a smart and determined girl who is immediately likable. The other mother is an equally strong character matching Coraline's likeability with evil. And the black cat is a hoot! Every character and it dark counterpart are easily enjoyable. This one will definitely have fans of young and old. If you've had the honor of reading the book, this will be a great treat for you and even if you haven't you'll still like this one. I sure did. A grand 4 on my "Go See" scale.

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