Pixar and Hayao Miyazaki have set the bar quite high these days when it comes to meaningful stories told with the efforts of animation. Stop motion is somewhere in between the digital realm and the tiring hand drawn process that produced so many classic pieces of animated film. Coraline was based on a story written by modern fantasy master Neil Gaiman and the film is directed by Henry Selick (the man who along with Tim Burton, helped bring us The Nightmare Before Christmas). Borders launched a mini-site around the release of the movie that chronicled the production and to see Selick put all of this attention to detail and moving everything along shot-by-shot, part of my appreciation from the film goes into the thought that must've been put into the production to create this magical realm.
A few months later I saw the Where The Wild Things Are trailer in which you could somewhat infer that a young boy has decided to escape to this far away fantasy realm. Something similar is being done in Coraline. Coraline is also the name of the main character and her life in the real world has a lot to be desired. Her parents are distracted and she lives in an apartment with a ton of very weird neighbors. So one day she finds a magic portal/door in her room and like any fearless child (such as Alice going into the rabbit hole or Lucy running into the wardrobe to Narnia) she plunges right in. And she is delighted with what she finds. The world is a parallel reality where she has the perfect family. Then the movie turns somewhat frightening when our heroine realizes that nothing is at it seems. I'll stop there at the risk of ruining too much.
Now the catch of this movie is, it can also be viewed in 3D. 3D is sometimes seen as a gimmick (*cough*Journey to the Center of the Earth*cough*) but here the 3D effects give depth. Very little comes out of the screen to surprise you. Instead everything goes inward to give us all depth and put us further into Coraline's monstrous "other-world." I'm not sure if there will be any way to re-create the 3D effects on the DVD but this was a must see in theaters and the inner child in you will enjoy it just as much if you decide to seek this out to watch at home.