Adapted of the book of the same name by Neil Gaiman, Coraline is a small wonder made of small wonders.
The story revolves around Coraline, whose parents just moved into the Pink Palace, an old apartment building in the middle of nowhere. Her parents, both authors of a gardening book are pushing near their deadline and none of the other eccentric inhabitants care to or can remember her name correctly, so her life right now is not exactly great. Then however she receives a strange doll that looks like herself and a small door opens itself to another world. There she is greeted by her other mother, her other father, her other everything. And all is so much better there, beautiful, interesting, magical...
ooor is iiiit?
Well, of course it´s not, it´s a scary movie.
While not really scary for adults, it the movie still does not shy away from creepy imagery or heavy themes. It presents a good blend of funny, suspenseful, creepy and calm moments. The story feels surprisingly authentic for having such phantastic themes. The motivations and feelings of Coraline and her parents are understandeable and relateable. The other neighbors (apart from Mr Bobinski maybe) seem like people one might actually know. It captures the view of a child and parent equally well. And even the antagonist is more than just "evil", at least in my opinion, though one can see it like that. There is a bit more complexity to it that is briefly touched upon, but not explained.
The story is not "easy", there is no "so this is what we learned today, folks!" It does provide questions without them being distracting and it can be interpreted without interpretation being necessary to understand the story.
The movie looks gorgeous and the differences between the one and the other world follow an internal logic, not so much dictated by the symbolism that a lot of other movies present (you know... someone is seen next to a cross and the audience knows that it´s supposed to be a jesus-analogy or something like that, which is not bad altogether, just a bit overused sometimes). And it´s one of those movies that you can watch over and over again and see something new again. Claymation is an impressive art by itself and it´s used masterfully here. The soundtrack is so good that I found myself listening to the ost on a regular basis for fun, which I barely do. It´s spooky, beautiful and fits extremely well.
One great tidbit is this: There is a female, believeable main character, several people of color, people of all ages, thin, fat, beautiful, ugly, bitchy, awkward, conservative, even "slutty"... and those characteristics don´t reflect on how bad or good a person they are. The movie, even though it has a rather small cast, has great diversity and not one unmemorable character design. And it pulls it off with elegance, in the sense that you only start to notice when you actually stop and think about it. Bravo.
There are a few small downsides: The movie tends to move too fast sometimes and there is one big plothole towards the end in my opinion, which i´ll put into the [ ] in white, so you can highlight if you want to read the spoiler: [Why didn´t the parents get tipped off that they had been away for so long when they were freed from the snow ball, when even the groceries were mouldy? And if they weren´t really away, why was there snow on their coats? Either they were away or they weren´t it´s not one of those situations where one can assume that both is possible.] The main character too I found rather unsympathetic when first watching it... but maybe that was the point. Also I personally just don´t like headstrong characters. Altogether those are minor problem in an otherwise awesome movie.
And that´s it: It´s an awesome movie, not "an awesome movie for kids". It´s an awesome movie. Period.