Remember The Nightmare Before Christmas? The holiday classic is invariably credited to its producer and story writer Tim Burton, but the film was actually directed by New Jersey native Henry Selick, an animator on Pete's Dragon and The Fox and the Hound who met Burton when they both worked at Disney in the '80s. Selick finally returns to the world of stop-motion animation once again, which he used solely in both Nightmare and the 1996 Roald Dahl adaptation James and the Giant Peach, with Coraline, another adaptation of a cryptic children's fable, this one written by literary goth overlord Neil Gaiman.
Like Alice in Wonderland reconfigured for David Lynch fans, this eerie-yet-elegant tale sets its sights on the blue-haired, oddly-named girl who gives the film its title. Voiced with energy and outre charm by Dakota Fanning, Coraline is the only child of a pair of Michigan-alum parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) who write garden catalogues as their daughter explores the dire tundra outside their new home. Prompted by curiosity and ongoing rows over mom's bad casserole and drab taste in clothing, the parilous scamp ultimately unlocks a small door and finds herself in a world where the land outside glows like Christmas lights, her Other Father is a buoyant inventor, and her Other Mother (both voiced by the same players) always cooks a luxurious feast. The catch: Everyone, including the neighbors and their pets, has black buttons for eyes.
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