One quick look at Henry Selick’s Coraline (2009); you would think he forgot who his audience was supposed to be. But Coraline is neither the first nor the last dark animated fantasy film we have seen in recent times.
If we take our minds away from the chosen genre, Coraline is actually a beautiful piece of art. It’s a film that’s relatable for kids and adults. Critically acclaimed, its stop-motion animation, screenplay, direction, and storyline ticked the box by several standards.
It’s no wonder it was a success, earning $124.6 million on a $60 million budget. In addition to its visual effects and story is the film’s amazing voice cast. In its lead is Dakota Fanning, who’s no stranger to delivering voice-over to animated films.
Welcome to Pink Palace Apartments
For Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning), life wasn’t going as smoothly and interestingly as she had planned. First, she had been forced to move from Pontiac, Michigan, to Ashland, Oregon. While that was a lot of adjustments to get used to, her parents seemed to have picked the worst home, the Pink Palace Apartments.
The house was old and rusted, with reptiles on the bathroom wall and malfunctioning water systems. As a young girl all by herself, the house was too big with no friends yet to keep her mind and body busy.
On top of it all, her parents are overly busy and seem to have less time to play with her. No matter how many times her father promises to create time for her, something just comes up.
Caroline’s New Neighbors
Amongst many other things to adapt to, relocating to a new city means dealing with new neighbors. One of the first neighbors Caroline is introduced to is the landlady’s oddly-looking grandson, Wyborne Lovat (Robert Bailey Jr.). In time, she and Wybie become close friends.
Coraline also meets a stray cat (Keith David). When Wybie sees a ragdoll in his grandmother’s trunk, he’s surprised it resembles Caroline. So, as a welcoming gift, he offers it to Caroline.
An Alternate World
If we’re to be honest with ourselves, we all have at one time wished there was an alternate world out there where all our wishes came through. For someone etching for an adventure, the ragdoll guides Caroline to a small door in the living room. Caroline is disappointed to find nothing behind it but a bricked-up wall.
Caroline is woken up by a mouse at night and is guided to the same door. This time, the door opens to a portal into a parallel universe. Caroline is surprised to see everything the exact same way as in her real life.
She meets a jolly-fellow doppelgänger of her father (John Hodgman) and is shocked to find her mom (Teri Hatcher) busy preparing sumptuous meals in the kitchen. The only problem was that these parents had buttons for eyes. But, for the amount of fun she had that night, button-eyed parents were the least of her worries.
Things Are Not Always What They Seem
Caroline ignores the story told by Wybie of his great aunt’s disappearance. She also ignores the advice of her other new neighbor, Sergei Alexander Bobinsky (Ian McShane), of danger. Instead, Caroline continued to travel to the parallel universe.
She meets Wybie in the parallel universe, but he’s mute. The stray cat in the alternate universe can move between both worlds and talk. Things take a drastic turn on her third visit to the alternate world.
After dinner, Coraline is offered a gift box containing two buttons, a needle, and thread. Her other parents offer her a chance to remain in this fun world for a price. Caroline would have to allow them to take her eyes and replace them with sewn buttons. When Caroline refuses, her other mother imprisons her.
Caroline Frees the Ghosts and Her Parents
Realizing the button-eyed parents are up to no good, Caroline seeks to free the ghosts of their previous captives. However, when the other mother sees Caroline has become too stubborn to succumb, she transforms into her true self, revealing herself in an arachnid-like form.
With the help of the other Wybie and the cat, Caroline rescues her real parents, frees the ghosts, and returns to the real world. Caroline is more than glad to be back home as she embraces her parents, who have no recollection of their capture. The ghosts appear in Caroline’s dream to thank her for granting their freedom.
Caroline and the real Wybie fight off the severed hand of the other mother seeking to retrieve the key to the portal door. Smashing the hand with a dropped rock, they throw the hand and the key into an old well and keep it sealed.
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