Saturday, November 14, 2015

Other Mother

Although I'm a follower of @NeilHimself, I haven't actually read a lot of his books. One I read that made me want to see the movie was Coraline (2008).

This is a stop-motion animated feature about a blue-haired girl named Coraline who moves into a ramshackle old boarding house in a rainy, dreary countryside. Her work-at-home parents are too busy for her and the neighbors are elderly theater-folk. The only kid her age around is an annoying wannabe punk named Wyborne. But one night Coraline finds a passage to another world.

In that world, the house is shiny and bright. Her father is whimsical and fun and Wybie can't talk. Her mother is cheerful and spends her time making Coraline her favorite food and stuffing her full. The neighbors put on magical performances. The only weird thing is that everyone has buttons for eyes.

The director, Harry Selick, did The Corpse Bride with Tim Burton and is a master of stop-motion animation - maybe the master. The look of the movie is inventive and fun, although some short sections had little jerky look to them. The only problem is that these days, you can do the same thing with computer animation, so I sometimes forgot I was watching real matter moving. The style was quite cartoonish, too - faces were a few spare lines, a lot of the design was sketched out simply, it would have been easy to computer animate. Plus, they seemed to use 3D printing to achieve some effects that would be hard conventionally. But regardless of the method, the final result looked great.

Dakota Fanning voiced Coraline, and made her some who I'd really like to get to know. Wybie was Robert Bailey, Jr. and his cat was Keith David (They Live). Mom and Dad were Teri Hatcher and John Hodgeman, and Ian McShane and French and Saunders voiced the theatrical neighbors.

Great story by Neil Gaiman, beautiful visuals from Selick.

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