Colette Urban

The 2009 film Coraline, written and directed by Henry Selick, is a remarkable film that has impacted families around the United States. Whether you grew up watching it, you’ve only recently discovered it, or maybe you’ve never watched it before, the themes (i.e. home, courage, and being happy with what you have) in Coraline are very familiar to most.

Just a quick recap of the movie for those of you who’ve never gotten around to watching it or need a refresher: The main character of the movie is Coraline, a little girl with blue hair, a yellow coat, and neglectful parents. Her family moves from Michigan to an apartment called “The Pink Palace”, a run-down house with three tenants living there. From the outside, the other two tenants seem like confused, elderly people. Coraline’s parents seem too caught up in their own work, often sending Coraline away to do her own thing. In her play, Coraline discovers a little door that, when opened, leads to a brick wall. A neighbor’s kid finds a doll in his grandma’s car that looks exactly like Coraline herself. The kid takes the doll and gives it Coraline with a note mentioning how strange it was that the doll looked like her. That night, a group of mice lead Coraline to the little door. But when she opens the door this time, it leads to a long, purple tunnel. She, of course, follows the tunnel until she gets to the other side. On the other side is a seemingly perfect world: the neighbor kid doesn’t talk as much, her neighbors aren’t as crazy as they say, and best of all, her parents aren’t neglectful. 

People often say when something seems too perfect, it probably is. And that’s the case in Coraline. As with any good movie, Coraline notices something’s off about this world and when she tries to escape, her parents on the other side don’t let her. This leads to a series of events that eventually lead to Coraline’s success. 

Coraline is highly considered a Halloween movie because of its spooky elements. Even though it’s rated PG, some young kids who grew up watching it were still very traumatized by some of its animation styles. When the perfect world behind the door gets flipped on its head, the mother from the other side is portrayed as spindly and narrow, with sharp teeth and needle-like fingers. There’s entire elements of the story that revolve around being kidnapped and having your soul locked away behind a mirror. The parents on the other side threaten to sew buttons over Coraline’s eyes. Elements like that, paired with the stop-motion animation style, can leave young children frightened. 

But why Coraline? For starters, Coraline is a stop-motion animation film that is impeccably smooth. Most people don’t even realize how much work goes into a stop-motion film and the producers of Coraline did a great job in tying it together. On top of that, most of the messages that the movie presents are good for kids to hear. One of the movie’s marketing slogans was even “be careful what you wish for.” Coraline also demonstrates a lot of courage and realizes that even though her life isn’t perfect, it could be a lot worse too.