Emily Karrs reviews the new 3-D stop-action animation movie Coraline:

Coraline is trapped in a world of uninteresting people who are uninterested in her. Her mother and father spend their days catatonic in front of their computers in their home offices, and her neighbors prattle on about themselves without even bothering to learn that her name isn’t “Caroline.”

Then, one day, she finds a secret door into the world of her dreams. Inside this Other House, the chief occupation of her Other Mother and Other Father is searching for ways to please her, her toys leap to life to entertain her, and everyone knows her name. The Other Mother, a precise copy of Mrs. Jones but for her paper-white skin and black button eyes, invites Coraline to sew a set of buttons over her own eyes and take her place at the locus of this Coraline-centric universe.

Our heroine discovers that this fulfillment of her desire for attention and adventure comes at a price, and the price becomes increasingly apparent as she runs at needlepoint from the Other Mother. The Other Mother never intended to accept any answer but “yes” to her invitation. Coraline’s dream world deteriorates into a nightmare.

And so Neil Gaiman explores every corner of what it means to dream. He delves into the varied fruits of our daydreams—the power of wishing and the agony of a wish come true. The Coraline we are introduced to at the novel’s opening pines for adventure and attention. Yet the eerily wonderful world to which she journeys causes her to exclaim, “I don’t want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted? Just like that, and it didn’t mean anything. What then?” Coraline lives out the maxim of St. Teresa of Avila: “There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers.”

My lot saw the movie over the weekend.  (I did not.) I don’t know whether they picked up on the underlying theme or not, but I do know that the film, in their words, “totally freaked them out.”  The thing is billed as a “family film” and I don’t believe anyone was expecting it to be as dark as it turned out.

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