Yesterday I saw Coraline and let me tell you, it is one of the closest movies to my imagination I have seen. Based on the wonderful book by Neil Gaiman, it follows Coraline (not Caroline) on a journey about being brave, standing up for yourself, and that all-encompassing subject of parents. Although it is quite frightful for the younger set, there’s a big thing here called common sense: if they aren’t old enough to read the book, they shouldn’t be going to this movie. I do encourage everyone out there to read the book before seeing the movie. I implore you, for the sake of books, and for the sake of all the little girls who think they can be witty and clever and get out of sticky situations themselves, read the book.
You might think that by reading this I didn’t particularly care for the movie- on the contrary, I quite enjoyed it. The sequences with the mice were so magical my inner child was clapping and starry-eyed. Keith David as the Cat made me giggle with glee, and the Other Mother was as ethereal and scary as the ghouls of Nightmare Before Christmas (the director, Henry Selick’s, other visual masterpiece) . The Other Mother also has a quality not too many “monsters” touch on – an almost timeless and never-ending evil quality- which makes me think of the origins of IT. Yes, Stephen King’s IT. Visually, it was everything I have been waiting for since I heard about it about a year ago. When I read the book, I was delighted and I have decided that it is definitely a book I want my (eventual) children to read.
The biggest problem (besides her being transported through the other world in her dreams instead of through her own volition) with the movie that I had was the addition of one character: Wybie (aptly nicknamed “Why Were You Born” by Coraline). His presence I can understand from a novel-to-film adaptation perspective. In a book, a lot of dialogue is within the main character’s head. So, they need to bring someone into the picture that the character can sort of bounce ideas and narrative off of to make it smooth. The huge problem I have with it was that in the two main instances where Coraline has to be immensely brave and quick-witted, HE steps in and helps her save the day. As a feminist, this didn’t just sadden me, it infuriated me. This story had a fantastic base that, like I have been mentioning throughout this essay, little girls can be smart and sassy and explore and be brave all on their own. The addition of this one character completely negates that and reinforces the fact that if a girl wants to do these things, she better make sure she has a boy to back her up and save her. *insert finger waggling*
So, I am not trying to detract in any way you from seeing the movie. Please, by all means, see it. Furthering movies like this go a long way in the quality and imagination department. But take my advice, read the book first.