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Coraline lives up to the hype

Neil Gaiman personally recommended (via Twitter, of course) this preview for the movie Coraline, based on his book of the same name, as the one that gets his personal stamp of approval. His plugging tweet worked, because not only was I there opening night, but I had a whole row of homos there with me, sporting our fancy 3D glasses.

The premise involves a quirky 11 year old, slightly neglected by her workaholic parents, venturing through a secret door off to a parallel universe featuring the most loving, understanding parents who attend to her every need and desire. What queer child hasn't had this dream, losing ourselves in imaginary worlds to avoid the fear and threats of what the real world held for us? And as a queer adult, I squealed at my own dreams coming true when the names Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French came up in the opening credits (they play retired actresses and "roommates" living in the garden apartment). Teri Hatcher provides the voice for Coraline's mother, as well as her Other Mother in the alternate universe, who starts out perfect but then begins to progressively get possessive and controlling, all while her body elongates into a skeletal, misshapen silhouette that resembles.....Teri Hatcher.

The movie -- Beetlejuice crossed with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer -- gets a little dark at times, but ultimately stays pretty wholesome. Coraline's innovation resides primarily in the animation and art direction, which is so lovely, I am forgiving that the story mostly stitches together elements from other childhood favorites. It's definitely worth the extra few bucks to see in a 3D theater, and let yourself get fully immersed in the bits of whimsy the movie offers, gasping at the occasional items floating off the screen and towards your nose. And if you need to take a bathroom break in the middle, you will at least get treated to a Life Magazine photo moment when you return to your seat.


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Noah Michelson