The Pleasures of Coraline

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I am an unabashed  Neil Gaiman partisan, and  so I bring with me a deep affection to any adaptation of his books.  (Instead of rose-colored glasses, perhaps I see Neil’s work through sewn-on button eyes.)  I have every expectation that Neal Jordan’s Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book will be a classic.  I do so want someone to make Anansi Boys into a movie (and, while we’re dreaming, do American Gods as a mini-series, and make his short story “Sunbird”… I don’t know – a giant mural or something.)  So, of course, I enjoyed every minute of Henry Selick’s Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.

The movie is as brave as Coraline herself.  It doesn’t try or care to fit in with the popular kids at Dreamworks and Disney and Pixar.  It has its own fearless style, staying much closer to the novel than most Hollywood studios would dare.

From the first scene – especially first scene – Coraline is a welcome reminder that stop motion animation is a peerless art form.  No matter how perfectly fuzzy is Kung Fu Panda’s computer hair, you can’t get around this fact:  things that are real feel more real than things that are not real.  Buttons, cloth, wood, needles, cotton… you know – actual stuff – tactile substances – are powerful in a way in stop motion that CG can never be.  (And Coraline’s stop-motion is in 3-D!)

I wish my kids (four and two) were older, so I could introduce them to the world of Coraline.  (Unfortunately, they’re still scared by some of the edgier Babar stories – I forgot that Babar’s mother is blown away with a shotgun on page two of the first book.  I told them that his mom was lying down because she had a cold.)  But when they’re older, I hope my girls will crawl with me through bricked-up doorways into “other” universes of Neil Gaiman.