Coraline, the goth-girl riff on The Wizard of Oz from Sandman creator Neil Gaiman, recently hit DVD and Blu-Ray from Henry Selick, the director of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Ultimately, it’s a clever and enjoyable kids’ movie with heart and attitude, but the advent of computers and 3-D photography took Selick’s groundbreaking animation style and turned it into a slick, commercialized and less impressive version of itself.
The story centers around Coraline Jones, unhappy with her inattentive parents, who finds a secret passage in her home to a magical land where everything is the same—except magically wonderful, with parents who dote on and adore her and the chatty neighbor boy is loyal and silent. Ultimately, of course, the central theme of the story is that there’s no place like home. The “perfect” world of Coraline—just like Oz or Narnia—is really much more imperfect than the place Coraline has been trying to escape from. Gaiman’s fascination with retelling and reinterpreting classic mythology—as seen in Sandman and his novels American Gods and Anansi Boys—is evident here, and while it’s stripped to its bones to make it kid-accessible, it’s still cleverer than almost any kids’ movie this side of Shrek.
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