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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Coraline and the Beautiful Nothing

Ever since Pan’s Labyrinth came along two years ago, I’ve been hoping for a similar movie to satiate my thirst for fantastical fairy tales. In fact, this movie shares many similarities to Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece – which is really nothing but a good thing.

Except for the heartless, it’s radically impossible to not sympathize with a young girl who moves to a new town with parents who are criminally involved in their work and remiss towards their daughter’s need for affection. It’s a story that’s going to haunt film and literature ’till the universe blows away, and it’ll never get old.

Dakota Fanning voices Coraline Jones, who discovers an alternate reality in an undersized door inside her home. Her voice is completely endearing, if not miscast – but is a welcome distraction from the disrespectfully drab dialogue (for the most part, I found myself entranced by her voice, trying to capitulate the intonations in my head, and getting lost in it and the visual atmosphere like some kind of drug). If I were a kid, I’d be completely insulted by the condescension of American kiddy films. There’s far better dialogue on Nickelodeon, and masterful dialogue in anime “kiddy” crap. When will studios other than Pixar learn that kids are adult enough to comprehend complex material?

Teri Hatcher voices the mother. She does a very good job, but what’s even more interesting is that on her old show Lois and Clark, (aka the New Adventures of Superman) Drew Carey and Kathy Kinney appeared on an episode together. At the time, they were also starring in my favoritest sitcom ever, the Drew Carey Show. I only saw the episode of Hatcher’s show years later on Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house, where I immediately flipped out and told my family of this incidence. They all shrugged me off, like I imagine you, dear reader, are doing right now. But, the point is, the voice acting in this movie is pretty good.

Of course, the main attraction is the animation – and in 3-D no less. This is the first film I’ve seen in 3-D, and I liked it. I liked it a lot — and we’ll all have to get used to it because it seems like every movie this year is being released in 3-D or “Disney Digital 3-D” (cause it’s not the same, right?). It’s not cheesy in that Jaws 3-D “we don’t really have much of a movie so we’ll just throw sharks at you” kind of fashion. It’s mostly very tasteful, immersive, and enchanting. In fact, I’d say this is one of the most visually stunning American animations produced in a long long time (excepting Pixar’s many fantastic films).

But that’s all you’re really left with – a visually enchanting atmosphere. There’s not much to think about. The dialogue is bad, which leads to poorly paced and sometimes off the shot acting. But it’s terrific kiddy trash. It won’t reach the cult level of the Nightmare Before Christmas – which Tim Burton did not direct! It was this guy: Henry Selick, who also did James and the Giant Peach and Monkeybone (but we can forgive him for that). This is the man, and I hope he gets all the credit he deserves. Though, I imagine there are people out there who will think that Coraline was directed by Tim Burton, just like there are people out there who think that Burton’s Batman is better than Nolan’s.

But, yeah, I definitely recommend Coraline.