Be Careful What You Wish For

Be Careful What You Wish For

Static Mass Rating: 3/5
CORALINE (Blu-ray)
Universal Pictures 

Release date: April 11th 2011
Certificate (UK): PG
Running time: 101 minutes

Director: Henry Selick

Cast: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French and Ian McShane

Do you remember how scared you were by fairy tales like The Snow Queen and The Red Shoes, by Hans Christian Anderson? Or how about the Brothers Grimm stories, Cinderella, Rupenzel and Snow White?

I’m sure it wasn’t just me who was scared by them, but others too. Well, Coraline is somewhere along those lines, essentially being about a little girl who comes to learn to appreciate things how they are, rather than how she wishes them to be. Yes, it’s that’s age old story of “Be careful what you wish for”.


Based on the children’s book by Neil Gaiman, it tells of an 11 year old girl (voice by Dakota Fanning) who has just moved from Michigan to Oregan. Bored by her new surroundings, ignored by her busy parents and missing her old friends, she’s goes in search of some excitement.

After meeting some of the town’s locals, including a boy her own age, Wybie (Robert Bailey Jr.), her eccentric neighbours Miss Spink and Forcible (Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French) and a bizarre Russian Mr. Bobinsky (Ian McShane), Coraline still doesn’t find the excitement she’s looking for…

That’s until she discovers a secret door in her house leading to a parallel universe! Although it looks pretty much the same, it seems a hundred times better. Her Other Mother always has time to make amazing meals, her Other Father is much more playful, Other Wybie doesn’t speak at all, the Other neighbours are more odd than before and even though Wybie doesn’t speak, his can certainly does.


Coraline could get used to life in the Other World, but there’s just one catch, she has to let her Other Mother replace her eyes with buttons. As you can imagine, the poor kid is horrified at the idea and as soon as she tries to escape, Coraline realises that there’s really no place like home.

The film is beautifully shot using stop-motion animation by Henry Selick, who also directed The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), and James and the Giant Peach (1996). The details are painstakingly intricate from the shimmering blue of Coraline’s hair to the amazing night garden her Other Father creates for her. Hand crafted by artists, it took several months to complete with thousands of paper flowers needed for the dazzling effect in one of the film’s best sequences.


Coraline is also a little bit scary. There are awkward moments of silence and it’s handful of bizarre characters left me feeling unsettled.

I wasn’t sure if we were meant to find the idea of taxidermy funny either.

The sight of Mr Bobinsky’s protruding belly and the scantly clad bodies of swinging trapeze artists Miss Spink and Forcible, both of whom I’m sure were a little bit more than friends, seemed entirely out of place in a story already lacking in areas where those earlier children’s classics didn’t.

The film becomes much darker in tone and therefore more absorbing as it reaches its climax with Coraline’s Other Mother showing her true face.


  • Feature Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • ‘Making of’ Featurette
  • Voicing the Characters Featurette
  • Creepy Coraline Featurette

While grown-ups may pick up on lesbian subplots and thinly masked innuendos, children are more likely to be tickled by the colourful Other World and the misadventures of a curious little girl to notice.

Still, it’s not enough, ultimately Coraline falls short of being as truly entertaining as any one of Selick’s previous films despite its aesthetic appeal.

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