watching: Coraline (2009)

People always say, “The book is so much better than the movie.” But Coraline is one of those rare cases where the movie is so much better than the book. (My other notable exception is Fight Club. The book is okay, but the movie is amazing.)

Filmed in stop-motion, Coraline brings a creepily fascinating world to life. Young Coraline moves with her mom and dad into an old house with a tiny boarded up doorway to nowhere (it’s been bricked over). In her dreams, Coraline travels through the door into a mirror world where everything is the same but better. Her mirror mom is nicer, more attentive, and her mirror dad cooks so much better and also pays attention to her. The colors are brighter in mirror world, and the furnishings of mirror world are new and gay. Of course there’s a catch — mirror mom wants to keep Coraline in her world forever.

Here is a clip of when Coraline first meets mirror mom.

I say the movie is better than the book because I found the end of the book too abrupt, too easy: Parents are rescued from mirror mom, the end. The movie makes the journey a little more complex, adding at least one character, possibly two (I haven’t read the book for several years) to help the little girl understand her journey. I’m always so-so about Neil Gaiman’s books — either they are terrific, or they are meh. He doesn’t have a middle ground. I’m glad someone saw the possibility in this story, and brought it to life. Even if you don’t have kids, you will probably like this one.

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