Bottom line: A unique animated movie in a realm all it's own, Coraline is the perfect Halloween haunt movie for those who like a very creepy scare. While the animation is brilliant and the story one-of-a-kind, both may be frightening, horrifying even, to children. If your kids are prone to nightmares, don't even consider this one.
MPAA Rating: PG, for thematic elements, scary images, some language and suggestive humor
Age range: Ages 9+
Runtime: Approx. 101 minutes
Studio: Focus Features
Release Date: February 6, 2009
Coraline - Summary
Based on the book Coraline by Neil Gaiman, this stop-motion animated film tells a bitter-sweet tale about a young heroine. Having just moved to a new area, Coraline is bored and lonely. Her parents, engrossed in their work, shoo her away as if she were just the family pet. Left to her own devices, Coraline sets about exploring her new surroundings.
Coraline's new home is in a very old house that has been divided into a set of apartments. Her neighbors are quite eccentric, which would be OK, if they would just get her name right. She gets to know them, and she befriends the owner's grandson, Wybie.
Inside the house, Coraline discovers a small door that opens up to a brick wall. That night in her dreams, the small door becomes a portal to another world -- a world where her "other mother" and "other father" (who are only discernible from her real parents by the fact that they have buttons for eyes) live. They shower her with affection, and she finds that the neighbors in that world are actually interesting.
One day, Coraline finds the small door locked, but when she obtains the key, it opens the portal for real. Upon entering her other world, Other Mother informs Coraline that she may stay there forever; all she has to do is sew buttons on her eyes to match those of her other family. Creeped out by the prospect, Coraline tries to go back to her real home, but she is trapped. When Other Mother shows her true self, Coraline fears that she may have lost her real family forever.
Coraline - Guide Review
The heroine in the story, Coraline, just wants to be in a place where everybody knows her name, and they're always glad she came. She finds just such a place in her "other world," but Coraline is smart enough to know when something is entirely too good to be true. This captivatingly creepy tale set in a magnificently whimsical, and at times terrifying, animated world tugs at the heart strings and draws viewers in as Coraline tears herself away from the alluring facade of the "other world" and bravely fights for her less than perfect reality. On its artistic merits, the movie is amazing, but is it good for kids?
The answer to that question partly depends on the kids. The film contains several scenes that would likely be frightening, even terrifying, for young children. Surprisingly, the 3D effects do not add much to the fright factor. Things don't jump off the screen as much as I expected, but many of the characters are down right creepy, and Other Mother turns into Mommy Dearest from the crypt or something. The movie also contains ghosts of children whose lives were eaten up by Other Mother. If your kids are at all prone to nightmares, this movie will definitely give their imaginations some disturbing new material, and the happy ending isn't bright enough to overcome all of the dark and scary imagery leading up to it.
In addition to numerous scary scenes, the film contains a shocking view of a ridiculously large breasted old woman wearing nothing but jewels on her breasts and a very small jeweled bikini bottom. Now that is scary.
Additionally, the phrase, "My God" is used pointedly by Coraline, and she also engages in name-calling, using words such as "jerkwad," "wuss-puss," and "psycho nerd."
Coraline - Content OverviewThe following lists a few of the most prominent examples of possibly offensive content in the movie (may contain spoilers):
- Other Mother turns into a gaunt, scary woman and throws Coraline into a sort of cell where she cannot escape.
- Coraline throws a cat at Other Mother. The cat tears her button eyes off. Other Mother turns into a spider-like monster and tries to attack Coraline.
- Other Mother does not like Wybie's "long face." Later we see that she has sown a creepy smile on him.
- We see an old woman with humongous breasts showing cleavage. Later, we see her nude except for some jewels on her chest and a small bikini bottom. (After several minutes, we see that this was just a costume as a woman unzips it and steps out of it.)
- One neighbor man wears a tank shirt that exposes his hairy belly and hairy shoulders. In one scene, he falls off a balcony and lands with his crotch dangerously close to a sharp pair of clippers.
- The phrase "My God" or variations is used several times.
- Name calling words such as "jerk," "stupid," "stalker," and "wuss-puss" are used.
- A man is referred to as being drunk (we never see him drink).
Bad/Disrespectful Behavior (High)
- Coraline often punches her friend Wybie while talking to him.
- Coraline is happy when Other Mother "fixes" Wybie so he can't talk.
- Coraline throws a cat at Other Mother.
Scary Scenes (Extreme)
- The scenes listed under violence may be particularly frightening for young children.
- Other Mother turns from being overly affectionate to being creepy and mean. She tries to keep Coraline trapped. We see the frightened ghosts of 3 children who warn Coraline that Other Mother sewed the eyes on them and ate up their lives.
- Several scary plants, fake humans controlled by Other Mother, and other creatures try to attack Coraline and keep her from finding what she needs to escape.
Sad/Unsettling Scenes (Medium)
- Coraline's parents ignore her and dismiss her as they try to work. She is very saddened by this.
- In one part of the movie, Coraline fears that her parents are gone forever.
Coraline - Discuss the Movie
- After watching Coraline, children may have questions about the following topics: ghosts, parents ignoring their children, haunted houses, magic and magical items, water witches, pet animals being stuffed and kept after they are dead.