Oscar®Oscar® Nominee for Best Animated Feature Film
Movie Review

Coraline

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, scary images, some language and suggestive humor.

Reviewed by: Michael Karounos
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults, Not kids
Genre:
Animation Fantasy Horror
Length:
1 hr. 40 min.
Year of Release:
2009
USA Release:
February 6, 2009 (wide—2,100 theaters)
DVD: July 21, 2009
Copyright, Focus Features / Universal Pictures Copyright, Focus Features / Universal Pictures Copyright, Focus Features / Universal Pictures Copyright, Focus Features / Universal Pictures Copyright, Focus Features / Universal Pictures Copyright, Focus Features / Universal Pictures Copyright, Focus Features / Universal Pictures Copyright, Focus Features / Universal Pictures Copyright, Focus Features / Universal Pictures Copyright, Focus Features / Universal Pictures
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Featuring: Dakota Fanning (voice of Coraline Jones), Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith David, John Hodgman, Robert Bailey Jr., Ian McShane, Aankha Neal, George Selick, Hannah Kaiser, Harry Selick, Marina Budovsky, Emerson Hatcher, Jerome Ranft, Christopher Murrie, Jeremy Ryder, Carolyn Crawford, Yona Prost
Director: Henry Selick
Monkeybone
Producer: Laika Entertainment, Pandemonium, Claire Jennings, Harry Linden, Bill Mechanic, Mary Sandell, Henry Selick, Michael Zoumas
Distributor: Focus Features / Universal Pictures

“Be careful what you wish for.”

“Coraline” is a film by Henry Selick (“The Nightmare Before Christmas”) based on the award-winning children’s book by Neil Gaiman. The story concerns an 11 year old girl whose mother and father move into a secluded house in the country. In the attic of the house lives an eccentric man who trains mice and in the basement live two eccentric and aged former actresses who have dogs. Coraline is bored, her parents have time only to type on their computers, and so Coraline discovers her own adventure.

The film is not only shot in stop-motion animation, like “James and the Giant Peach” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” but it is also filmed in 3D, though the use of the technology is not as striking as in the movie “Beowulf” (2007). The texture of the film is interesting, but there are no innovative concepts. The idea of an alternate world behind a door or mirror, we have seen before in Alice in Wonderland and in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In an interview, Henry Selick acknowledges as much, saying:

“I call the film and the book sort of a combination of Alice in Wonderland and Hansel and Gretel.”

What is unusual about this story, both book and film, is the moral darkness of the universe which Coraline inhabits. The moral of the film can best be summarized as “Be careful of what you wish for” or, as Coraline in the book says, “What kind of fun would it be if I just got whatever I wanted?” (133). Coraline’s boredom leads her into a dangerous parallel world in which there is an Other Mother and an Other Father who are attentive to her, cook great meals, and have a home full of fantastic toys and moving furniture. They also have buttons for eyes.

Neither the plot nor the setting are the most important parts of the movie, as concerns Christian parents. Rather, of concern is Neil Gaiman’s conception of an alternate world in which the functioning domesticity of a mother who cooks and a father who works is a kind of hell. In the book, the Other Mother punishes Coraline:

“You needed to be taught a lesson, but we temper our justice with mercy here; we love the sinner but hate the sin” (98).

The speech is clearly a slam at the kind of home where mothers cook and fathers work and parents speak of “sin” and “sinner” and “mercy” and “justice.” It is the kind of home that atheists imagine Christians live in: a Stepford Family reality of puppet people with no creativity or individuality.

Other Mother.
Other Mother

The most disturbing thing about the movie is the tone of the relationships. Henry Selick adds a boy character named Wybie, short for Wybourne, whose name Coraline mockingly transforms into “Why-were-you-born?” In every relationship in the movie, the female character abuses the male. The real mother dominates the real father, the Other Mother ultimately destroys the Other Father, the grandmother controls Wybie, and, worst of all, Coraline strikes and abuses Wybie in both the real and the Other World. Wybie is a trodden-down character in both worlds, who slouches, is slavishly deferential to Coraline, and is clearly less of a person than she is. What this accumulation of images constructs is a moral universe in which the family or community are subservient to the demands of a tyrannical individual.

The fact that Ramona is one of the characters Coraline reads is not surprising, in the sense that Coraline comes across as a spoiled child to a Christian audience. To a non-Christian audience she is supposed to seem confident, charmingly rebellious, and, above all, equal to the adults. It is an atheistic view of family in which moral authority begins with the child, flows through the mother, and ends at the father: a conscious inversion of a Christian family model.

Coraline’s aggression is supposed to be indicative of her assertiveness, but in a social universe where every woman is cruel or cold, Coraline comes across as an extension of the good and bad mothers. What the female characters have in common are an abusive streak that is either slight or extensive, but which is present in all three. Gaiman’s perverse view of relationships may have to do with the fact that he is reacting against the Disney model:

“Have you ever had to watch The Disney Channel, and the kind of plots that are deemed acceptable on that channel? Let me give you an example: Somebody thinks that everybody’s forgotten their birthday, but they haven’t, because they were planning a surprise party all along! And everybody loves everybody, and then they hug. It’s almost like pornography [everybody laughs]. It presents this vision of an impossibly hospitable world which children know doesn’t exist.”
http://hollywood-animated-films.suite101.com/article.cfm/interview_neil_gaiman_on_coraline

Any artist who sees happy relationships “like pornography” will certainly see actual pornography in a different light. Gaiman’s book sexualizes the relationship between Miss Pink and Miss Forcible and shows them in relatively modest circus outfits. However, Henry Selick extends that content and portrays a naked Miss Forcible as a strip dancer wearing a sequined thong and stripper’s pasties on impossibly huge breasts. The children in the audience cried out their disgust in tones of amusement and surprise, as if to say, “So that’s what they look like without any clothes!” It is a deeply misogynistic image which will elicit disgust in any Christian viewer, regardless of age.

book cover

Gaiman’s book is not as dark as Selick’s vision, and the illustrations by P. Craig Russell on page eight show images of the movies “Totoro” (1988) and “Babe” (1995), as well as partial covers of Lily’s Ghosts (2005) by Laura Ruby, The Wall and the Wing (2007) by Laura Ruby, Ramona and her Mother (1990) by Beverly Cleary, and Warriors: Into the Wild (2003) by Erin Hunter. These references are left out of the movie, which oddly converts Coraline into a hollow mental and spiritual shell who desires only physical experience.

From a story standpoint, the book is a hodge-podge of incidents and images. Gaiman is famous and has the ability to trade on the brand of his name. He can put almost anything on the market, and it will sell. For example, this quotation of how the book came to be published is revealing:

“And I had a small, Wednesday Addams sort of daughter who liked stories with strange mothers and cellars and dank places and creepy stuff, and so I started to write her one. And then I realized I hadn’t written anything for 5 years, and I’d better get a contract, otherwise it would never be finished. So I sent it to a publisher, and my editor called me up and said, ‘So what happens next?’ and I said, ‘If you send me a contract, we will both find out.’”

In other words, he didn’t have a story outline. Incidents just morphed into a kind of tale over a period of five years without any underlying moral or an awareness of absolute good or evil. In a real myth, such as those written by C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien or George MacDonald, there is absolute good and evil, and they are represented not only by things and characters, but by living ideas which must be confronted by the mind and heart, as much as by the body. In “Coraline,” the evil is a mother who cooks and cleans and the good is a rejection of that mother. There is no good idea, just a mode of rebellious behavior that arises out of boredom. Such boredom stems from children having a sense of entitlement to be entertained and a self-esteem which is always fed flattery and praise. This comes from having too many things and not too few things to do.

In “Coraline” there is no good; there is only evil. Coraline’s malicious behavior toward Wybie is portrayed as independence. In the end of the book and movie, Mr. Bobo says “The mice tell me you are our savior.” But how has Coraline saved anyone? The parents now dig in the garden instead of type on their computers, but Coraline has not undergone any change. It is her parents who must change in order to accommodate her. She has not become a better person toward Wybie, less selfish in her demands, or less self-centered in the way she views the world around her. It is, literally, a world without God, in which the self is its own god and which must be fed experience in order to be fully alive.

“Coraline” is a bad movie for children and a disturbing movie for adults. The horror of it comes not from the plot, which is common, but from its nihilistic attitude. This view sees human relations as power struggles which can only be resolved by an exercise of will, and it sees life as an existential wasteland that has no intrinsic meaning, but what we can give to it ourselves. As art, it is a diminished thing without light, while its truest love is of the darkness in all things. Some people may be misled by the bright tone of the voices in its real world to think it is an “uplifting” movie, but underlying that tone is a spiritual emptiness which inhabits the characters, the setting, and, it seems, the movie’s creators.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

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Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Just saw “Coraline” today at the theater. I remember reading the book when I was in middle school, it freaked me out so much. When I heard they were making a film about it, I had to read it again, still gave me the creeps. I love it.

The film introduces us to a heroine who is spunky and adventurous and hates it when her name is mispronounced. Coraline is the Dorothy of a new “Wizard of Oz” like story. Just when she thinks the world would be a better place she learns that not everything is as good as it seems. The story begins… The content of the film should be considered by parents who want to take the younger kids with them. The other world features a barely dressed busty woman and the Other Mother would give you nightmares.

Being a fan of Neil Gaiman, I loved the film and would recommend it to anyone who wanders what’s a good film to see. The special effects are remarkable and are in your face in 3D.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Layne, age 19 (USA)
Positive—As a Christian, I find myself extremely sensitive to the liberal, anti-Christian messages with which Hollywood laces such a great deal of its movies--especially those geared toward particularly impressionable audiences like children and young adults. While watching a typical movie putting forth its backward messages about Christianity and believers, I can’t help but feel angry at even the slightest and subtlest of Hollywood’s foisted perversions of truth or Christian reality.

I just DIDN’T get that from this move; in fact, I liked it quite a bit.

I think the main review of this movie is a bit flawed in its portrayal of the movie. True, this movie was taken from a novel (which I have not read) that apparently says some pretty pathetic things about the truth of sin and morality, but they just weren’t a part of the movie screenplay. It’s also true that a book story made into a movie story may indubitably reflect a bit of the author’s original message, but if the book had anything really insidious to say (as it may have), none of it made it into what you see through your 3-D glasses. I wouldn’t ever read the book because of what it says on page 98, but the fact remains that neither this idea nor similar insidious ideas were in the script. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Nills, age 24
Positive—Upon the request of my husband, we took our children to see Coraline on Sunday evening. He just called to have me read this review. I tend to stay away from “Christian” reviews as they, many times, don’t seem to reflect my attitudes at all. This particular review seems to be way way out in right field so I’ve decided to write a another review of Coraline from a “Christian” perspective.

The movie Coraline is about a middle school girl who’s parents have moved her across country from Michigan to a small town in Oregon. Coraline is an only child to parents, both writers, who work from home. They move into a old, large, rented home that has a “haunted” past. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Melissa, age 27 (USA)
Positive—I’m surprised at how over-the-top this critic’s opinion is for “Coraline.” I agree with this critic’s opinion that the movie is beautiful and very well made, but I do not agree with the critic’s moral opinion. First of all, I found nothing in this film that insulted a family where the mother is a housewife, while the father works. The Other Mother is looked at as evil because she is forcing everybody to pretend they are all happy while they really are not. This is proven in the film when the Other Mother makes a hand sign to the Other Wybourne to keep smiling even though he is really sad. She later sews his mouth into a smile, which Coraline later undoes for him. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Austin, age 20 (USA)
Positive—I think the reviewer is way off base saying that all Christians will be offended by this movie. Most of my Christian friends are also Gaiman fans. I loved this book and I love the movie.…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Deann, age 36 (USA)
Positive—I just have to respond to this reviewer. First, the movie IS for kids and adults alike. The stuff that disturbs an adult often merely fascinates a child. That’s why we love to read our children Grimm’s fairy tales where children are nearly eaten by wicked witches, so they kill their aggressors by trapping them in furnaces. Or, children’s grandmothers are eaten by big bad wolves, etc. I would add that this is why biblical stories often have an element of gore. Brothers kill each other, or strip their youngest sibling to sell into slavery, people are thrown into fiery furnaces, prophets have their heads cut off and delivered on platters at parties…

Interestingly, none of these things happened in “Coraline.” Is it creepy? Sure, but all the creepiness is implied. Is there a 98 year old woman with size D breasts? Yes, but that may be the scariest moment in the film. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Alan Barnes, age 35 (USA)
Positive—This is a good, unique movie that is not your normal cartoon. It’s even more unique because it’s not the typical Disney cartoon. This movie has a more realistic family. Coraline and her parents moved to a new 100+ year old house. Since her parents are overly busy with their careers at home, they don’t have much time to give attention to Coraline. So Coraline’s bored, frustrated, and explores the house and meets the very eccentric neighbors, an old circus performer that has circus mice and 2 old ladies that were performers as well. She meets a boy called Wybourne who is always being called home by his grandmother. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jo, age 26 (USA)
Positive—The reviewer has seems to under appreciate a healthy sense of irony. This movie is excellent on all counts. But, don’t bring your younger kids to see it either. Any good parent should know that not all animated movies are actually for kids. This is certainly a movie for mature, critical-thinking adults—that couldn’t have been presented nearly as well without animation. It is beautiful, haunting and made me do a lot of thinking about how I perceive the world and those in it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jon, age 30 (USA)
Positive—I absolutely loved “A Nightmare Before Christmas,” and I was expecting the same charm in “Coraline.” While this movie succeeds in being entertaining and quite a sight to see (the 3-D version really isn’t as good as it sounds though), it has some content and dragging moments that set it apart from its predecessor. In terms of content, I almost felt it could be PG-13. The two older women (I don’t remember their names) show quite a bit of cleavage, and their breasts are hugely exaggerated. I couldn’t find their quirkiness funny because of this and other (please forgive the harsh word) “trampy” qualities they possess. They were just creepy.

This film is not for children because of that and other moments that are genuinely frightening. This movie also has problems with its pacing. It tries to be funny, dramatic, suspenseful and emotional. It just doesn’t really work. Despite its many downfalls, “Coraline” is still fairly entertaining and is worth a one-time-see for adults and teenagers.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Ben Badger, age 18 (USA)
Positive—I think this movie is an excellent metaphor of dealing with the temptations of life and the consequences of giving into worldly desires. It also may give parents a good reality check as far as the importance of spending time with one’s children. There are some things that may be considered offensive in some underdressed women and the use of reading tea leaves and a magic stone. The story is of a little girl, with a boisterous personality, who has 2 parents that spend a large amount of their time working. Both parents clearly love her, but do not have much time for her and typically send her off when she asks for their attention. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—JJ, age 25 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—I regret to say that I haven’t read the book that this movie is based on. With that in mind, I felt that the film was well-made and obviously a lot of work went into creating the stop-motion animation. However, I really didn’t enjoy this movie that much because I just couldn’t get into it. It kept me on the edge of my seat, but it really didn’t appeal to me.

Morally speaking, the film isn’t right for youngsters. Putting a half-naked, elderly woman in a children’s film with an incredibly huge chest is not appropriate, and I don’t care if it is within the context of Sandro Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” (imagine an 80-year-old Dolly Parton). Most children under 10 haven’t taken art history courses. I do agree with the reviewer on the grounds that the movie has a bit of a nihilistic feel to it. Plus, it can be scary to younger kids. It even freaked me out a little bit. I guess one could say that this is a horror movie for the younger set. The one good thing about this movie is that Coraline realizes that she would much rather stay in her boring life than the really fun life…after being threatened with bodily mutilation.

In conclusion, I think parents are better off renting some old school Disney DVDs like Snow White or Cinderella. Heck, “Snow White” was just as dark as this, and it didn’t have to rely on human mutilation as a plot.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Shannon, age 27 (USA)
Neutral—“Coraline” was an interesting move. NOT FOR KIDS, but it was very interesting as a young adult. I disagreed with the author of the review for this film. While I did feel there were certainly anti-Christian moments, such as the g-string moment which severely bothered me, I did not feel that the movie represented a rejection of family. I felt it was the opposite. Yes, Coraline was a little spoiled, but to me it wasn’t because she received so much praise and attention and toys, as the reviewer said, but more from a lack of attention from her parents who substituted quality time with other things, and used work as a reason to not spend time with their daughter.

To me, she seemed like a child desperate for attention and love from her parents. The other mother offered her that love and attention. To me the other mother was like a demon. It had created the illusion of what Coraline wanted to tempt her to stay in a world that Coraline knew wasn’t her rightful home. Much the way we are tempted in real life. Coraline in the end rejected this view, but the movie also showed the fate of those who do not reject it, and stayed stuck in that world by having their eyes, the biblical window to the soul, taken away and replaced by doll buttons, another aspect I considered highly fascinating. In the end, I saw that Coraline had not changed much, but she did seem less demanding and happier, not because her parents were giving her everything she wanted, but because they were spending time together as a family, doing a family activity. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Katie Beth, age 19 (USA)
Neutral—So I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I have read the book, and recently. In fact, I read it just weeks before I heard it was coming out in theaters.

I enjoy some of Gaiman’s other books, like “Anansi Boys,” “Neverwhere,” and “Stardust,” and think he is a very talented author. I don’t know what his religious beliefs are, but I think he has a definite grasp on what is evil.

I am not a big fan of anything creepy or in the horror genre. So when I read Coraline, I admit, I was a little freaked out. The Other Mother is a very evil, sinister character. And it’s not because she cooks or has a “traditional” role—not at all. It’s because she wants Coraline. Like a spider wants a fly. more »
—Jessica, age 29 (USA)
Negative
Negative—This movie review is right on. Do not take your kids to this movie. I wish I had read this review before. I never would have taken my young children to this film. I sat horrified and extremely embarrassed—with three children all under the age of 11—as the whole “woman in a g-string and pasties” scene played out. I can’t believe this movie was rated PG
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Katina, age 34 (USA)
Negative—One thing that kind of jumped out at me was that the movie seemed to be mocking God. The creator of the alternate world was evil, and should not be obeyed. As a Christian, we understand that to have an obedient heart to our creator is the right way. We know that His ways are higher than our ways, and our own perspective is jaded and incomplete, while His is complete. I couldn’t help but see the message that the creator was evil, and, of course, the creator in the film was evil. The idea is planted, much like in the garden of Eden, that we can choose our own way. We are wise, and God doesn’t have our best interest in mind.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Pam, age 42 (USA)
Negative—I walked out of this movie with a deep sense of heaviness and sadness, especially as I watched many, many adults with young children as young as 3 years old, leave the theater. The movie made a mockery of all we, as Christians, hold true and beautiful. I gasped, along with the little children watching this film, as a very robust, older lady was shown with nothing, but sequins covering her giant breasts, along with a g-string at her waist. Up to that point, the movie had a magical, childlike sense of wonder in it. It almost seemed like it was made to capture the attention of a child’s mind and then fill it with disgusting images and attitudes.

Toward the end of the movie, there was, what I think to a young child, a really terrifying scene where the girl is caught in a giant web, and the sinister “other mother” is coming toward her. What is all this doing to the sweet innocent minds of our children? Must we corrupt them before they can even think and reason on their own? I really agree with the reviewer of this film. It put the traditional family in a very negative light and uplifted selfishness and self-fulfillment.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Gary, age 52 (USA)
Negative—I just saw this movie today with my mom. And I love these types of movies, and I thought the movie was good, but I was really disturbed about the old lady with huge breast half naked on stage. I couldn’t believe it was rated PG; I would never want a young child seeing this. I think its putting bad images in their head. I really don’t like movies with nudity; I don’t support them, but when it’s put in PG-13 or PG, it’s even worse to me.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Ashley, age 20 (USA)
Negative—I think people ought to pray for [Coraline’s author] Neil Gaiman who is a patron (and founding patron) of Scientology and whose family members are all high-ranking Scientologists. “Coraline” reflects the experience of someone whose childhood was stolen, who reverted into fantasy to save his mind from endless auditing and who has a very limited understanding of human emotions, having been drilled in the Scientology tone scale to mimic emotions and forced to adhere to a bizarre code where grief and shame are downgraded as unnecessary, when, in fact, these emotions make us human and give us compassion. All the themes are there; evil parents who interrogate, spy and turn unsuspecting children into brainwashed zombies, stealing their souls and replacing their eyes with buttons. Most disturbing is the ethical thread of “Coraline;” stay at home in your icky, boring dead world because the outside world is dangerous, “Coraline” is all about fear and hopelessness.

Neil Gaiman’s life is a sad tale of adultery, divorce and lies. He now dates a bisexual woman 15 years his junior who sings about being raped. If anyone needs prayer, it is this man who is absolutely lost. I cannot recommend his books or his films. Neil Gaiman walks in darkness.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Matilda, age 35 (USA)
Negative—“Coraline” is an unnerving movie to take a child to, not uplifting in the slightest, just a miserable experience. A good story should be wise, should teach something about life or reveal a truth. In a good story, something important transpires, our souls have been nourished or a truth illuminated by the story teller. “Coraline” is not a good story. Instead, Coraline is a wild and pointless descent into a kind of hell, without hope and without a point, just a mindless cornucopia of ugly visions. It is depressing and morally bankrupt, and you walk away wondering what the author was trying to say?

Also be warned that if your kids follow Neil Gaiman, they will discover a bizarre alternative life style this “children’s author” indulges in that is quite disturbing. After divorcing his wife, Neil Gaiman became involved with a woman 20 years his junior, Amanda Palmer. Together they published a book that is a series of snuff/mutilation photographs of the young woman covered in blood staging her own death. The two launched a public campaign about their “relationship” and participated in an auction where the young woman performed fellatio on a phallic object which was then auctioned off. Amanda Palmer has also posted a series of naked photos of herself on Twitter and the Web covered in grotesque writing and slurs. Neil Gaiman even declared that his favorite photo was of her bruised and bound body. What is the message for young women here? Neil Gaiman is morally bankrupt, and it shows in his story and in his life.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Jacob, age 49 (USA)
Negative—I went into the movie with my college age daughters not knowing much about “Coraline” except that it was a cartoon rated PG. I assumed there would be some kind of positive moral message, as many cartoons have, but there wasn’t. From start to finish it was dark, cold, and creepy; all three of us left the theater feeling shocked. Children in the theater cried. I even overheard one father say to his scared child, “It’s almost over.” They stayed, but they should have walked out; other people did. This gloomy film left me and my daughters depressed, feeling a sense of despair and hopelessness for the world.

Many things about this movie made my mouth drop, like when Coraline stated, “Moms don’t eat daughters.” Or, when all the dogs at the show were staring at the nude old lady with the triple D sized chest? Or, when the other old lady was fitting one of her healthy dogs for his death outfit? Sick. This whole movie was disturbing.

Coraline is a rude, cold, angry, disrespectful girl living in a dark world where she’s neglected and ignored by her parents (especially her mother) and thus stumbles upon what she hopes to be a “better” world. Turns out it’s not. Perhaps the moral of “Coraline” should be, “One should be content living in a creepy, bug infested home where parents neglect you and fed you slim, because, life could always get worse.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Josie, age 46 (USA)
Negative—I just watched this movie and I have to say that this movie was quite offensive to anyone that is a Christian and loves the Lord with all their heart. TWICE, that I counted, they used God’s name in vain. The word “cr*p” was used once. The scantily clad elderly woman with the big chest… that moved more then she did. Was all that really needed?

To relay from the mouth of my 10 year old child, “Mom, why do they put those things in movies for us?” He went on to tell me, “Mom, that just is not right.” If a 10 year old boy can see the error in this movie, certainly we can all see these things that would displease Christ.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Paula, age 40 (USA)
Negative—I am a mother of 7 grown children and 20 grandchildren. I didn’t like the dark, dreary, spooky, scary underworld theme of this movie. As a child or adult, I don’t like scary movies and this one I should have left. An evil, foreboding presence through the wall of your home is very frightening. There was no plot and no moral to the story. It was dark and sinister and scary. If given the opportunity to see it again, knowing how negative it is, I would NOT go! There are WAY better ways to spend your time. Find movies that edify and uplift you. This was horrible! Everything about it was poorly done.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
—Bev, age 56 (USA)
Negative—As a Christian, who blindly put the movie on for “Family Movie Night,” I was very disappointed with this movie. My kids were scared, my daughter running out of the room not being able to continue watching it. There are no redeeming qualities in this movie.

The first scene of the movie shows Coraline using a divining rod, later she’d have her tea-leaves read by Miss Forcible and Miss Spink. Satanic/Demonic symbols throughout. I can’t believe Christian reviewers haven’t jumped on this… I’m very open to what I show my kids (6, 5, and 3), we recently took them to the Edward Gorey exhibit (The Gashlycrumb Tinies, The Tuning Fork, etc) which is twisted in it’s own right, but has some artistic value. We’ll watch PG-13 movies on occasion. Recently, we all loved “Igor,” a very good movie.

If the moral of the story is not getting everything you want, doesn’t she get everything she want’s in the end?
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Karl K, age 36 (USA)
Negative—“Coraline” is everything that is wrong with movies. There are no values in this film. The parents are workaholics and ignore their own child. The character Coraline is selfish, willful and won’t learn. This movie is dark and twisted, where mirror parents want to pluck out the child’s eyes. This film rambles and goes nowhere; on every level this is a dreadful film of hopelessness and despair. Do not expose your children to this terrible film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Norman Baker, age 35 (USA)
Negative—When I first heard of the movie “Coraline,” I was both interested and unsure to watch it. I was interested because: I have a great love for animated movies and Claymation/stop-motion animation. Why I was unsure: After reading the review of the movie here on CSOE, it definitely made me think about the film and what moral it was trying to “teach” our audience.

“Edginess” in a movie isn’t always bad. A Christian film can be “edgy” by portraying a drug dealer who finds Christ and be a terrific movie. “Darkness” however in a film can be objective and controversial. And seeing how so many reviewers had mixed feelings about the film, I was starting to wonder if it was really worth watching a film that no one can decide whether it’s good or bad. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Andrea, age 19 (USA)
Negative—I wanted to see this movie after I had read the synopsis and saw how folks on Netflix had rated it. I was unfamiliar with the author of the book, or the director. I really was expecting more of something like a Pixar or Dreamworks production. I was looking forward to watching it with my young kids. When I got the movie, I put it on while the kids were there. My daughter, who has shown a high sensitivity to dark themes in movies (more on that later), immediately reacted to the opening scenes of the doll being dismembered. It was pretty creepy, but I was very curious about the story, so I put the movie away and waited for a time I could watch it alone (my wife is not much of a movie person). I watched the movie tonight (about 40 minutes of it). What happened was rather shocking, and a wake up call for me. more »
—Jim Clark, age 48 (USA)
Negative—I used to be obsessed with “Coraline,” but then I realized that, aside from the animation, it really isn’t great. Not only is Coraline disrespectful to her parents, but they are equally disrespectful and nasty to her, which is setting a bad example for her to follow. How do they expect her to behave when they behave worse than she does? The nudity is appalling, the horror is too much for young eyes, and the ending may leave you depressed.

This is not a kids’ movie in the slightest. However, parents might learn something about how not to treat their kids, and the movie might encourage them to pay attention to what their kids are getting into while they aren’t around. But nobody needs to watch this dark, depressing movie in order to learn what few morals it has to offer. How “Coraline” got the child-friendly rating of PG, I do not know.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Samuel, age 19 (USA)
Comments from young people
Neutral—I have mixed opinions about this movie. I went in knowing nothing about it—I didn’t want to spoil any plots, so I didn’t even watch previews about it. My friend invited me, who was in a similar position as I was—knowing only that it was a very advanced stop motion film. I went in with high expectations. I came out with multiple opinions. I do believe that, for its genre, it has a good message: that you should be thankful with what you have where you are, and strengthen your relationships while you have them.

The reviewer was a bit too focused on the film’s negatives, I believe, and he didn’t give enough insight into Coraline’s character progression from the beginning of the movie towards the end. She loves her parents—she shows them more affection and spends more time with them at the end. The movie does show a broken family and relationship lifestyle; who can make straight what God has made crooked? more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Kayla, age 16 (USA)
Positive—First of all… I love Henry Selick’s work and this was his best movie yet!!!

Second, why take your little kids under age 7 to see this? Obviously, you should have guessed they would get scared. The commercial was very dark and spooky, and you should have figured it out. I saw several scared kids in the audience when I went to see it, and frankly, I felt sorry for them. Parents, next time, if a commercial looks dark and scary, don’t take your little kids to see it. Go see a G rated movie instead. You won’t have to waste your money!!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Roxanne Peters, age 12 (USA)
Positive—If you haven’t heard of Henry Selick, you are probably not alone. This is unfortunate, since he is one of the visionaries behind such classics as “James and the Giant Peach” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” both of which are often attributed solely to Tim Burton. “Coraline” is Selick’s first stop motion animation film without Tim Burton’s guiding hand, and it is an impressive debut.

“Coraline” is based on a book of the same name by author Neil Gaiman. If you’ve seen the commercials, you probably already know how the story goes. Coraline (Dakota Fanning), a young girl who is utterly disgusted with her boring life and inattentive parents, discovers an alternate reality through a small door in her wall. The world she finds seems tailor-made to suit her needs, but of course, everything is not what it seems. She soon finds herself running for her life from the Other Parents and the world they’ve created for her. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Matt Triponey, age 17 (USA)
Positive—I gotta say I loved this movie. It was entertaining, BEAUTIFUL animation, and creepy. But sadly, it wasn’t exactly the best movie choice ever for Christians for these reasons:

1. One of the old ladies was wearing nothing but sequins to barely cover parts of her body, and it was worse than a bikini. And the fact she had an impossibly big chest. And Coraline, I’m afraid, made comments like, “She practically naked!” but she was laughing, clearly amused, like it was a good thing. That disturbed me more than the image of the sequin lady itself. However, it was more idiotically ridiculous than sexual. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Eryn, age 12 (USA)
Positive—You did not understand this movie. It isn’t a stab at “good” mothers. The point is that the other mother seems to be perfect, just like she did with the 3 ghost children, but once she gets you she locks you away for dead (again, like the ghost children.) And you say she didn’t save anyone, but she did, she saved the ghost children and her real parents. I will agree with you that the nude scenes with the woman from downstairs was unnecessary.

overall I enjoyed the movie but prefer the book. (the book is a lot creepier)
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Emily G., age 14 (USA)
Positive—I disagree heartily with this review of “Coraline.” Many of the reviewer’s complaints skew the film to seem like something it isn’t.

1. The Other Mother is domestic, hence, the film says domesticity: evil. This isn’t right at all. Domesticity is something Coraline’s life lacked but she wanted. The Other Mother uses her cooking to tempt Coraline to stay in the other world. This shows that domesticity is something children crave in their lives. Real evil in the world can warp or use good things to tempt people into doing things that they wouldn’t otherwise. This can be sinning because it seemed right, or running away to live with people with buttons for eyes because their lives seem preferable. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Paige A., age 17 (USA)
Neutral—Okay, I love the weirdness and awkwardness of Tim Burton. I had watched previews over and over to see if this would be a good movie, to see if there was anything wrong spiritually. When watching, I had found lots of things that could have good spiritual meanings. But for me and my friend, the part that bothered us deeply (spiritually) were the ghost children. Mean while, there were parts where it actually made me think about things in depth, but because we were bothered deeply, we will probably not watch it again.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Elysa, age 17 (USA)
Negative—I just saw this movie last night with my mom, my younger siblings were not able to attend the movie so I’m glad they didn’t have to see the terrible things my mom and I saw. Coraline was very disrespectful to her real parents and no discipline was done. This was not godly.

Then when she made a friend named Wybie, she was extremely rude. I actually thought this movie would get better when she found the secret door, but it just got worse especially when the old woman only had a thong and sequined pasties. It was disgusting. And it was shocking that I heard laughter on that scene. My mom and I shielded our eyes, and Coraline had the mind to laugh and say “She’s practically naked!”. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Mia, age 12 (USA)
Negative—This film was an enormous let down. I do not care what anyone else thinks, I absolutely hated this movie. The author of the book, Coraline, said he wrote this book for his daughter, and if the book’s illustrations are anything like the movie…I’d be angry with my father. Coraline’s parents spend all their time on the computer… none with Coraline. This makes Coraline a rude,bratty,mean, and unappreciative girl.

There is a scene where a woman with a large chest is nearly in nudity. I am a young child who is still growing in Christ, and if children know there’s something wrong… it’s not worth buying. Don’t rent, buy, or even borrow this movie from a friend. Don’t spend the time or money just to fill your innocent, clean, christian mind with atheist thoughts, if you do… you’ll regret it. Don’t believe what the commercials say, they don’t show the bad parts.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Kathryn, age 10 (USA)
Neutral—I don’t know why people are over-exaggerating the, I think, one very objectionable thing in this entire film. There is a viewing of a woman in extremely skimpy clothing, but I wouldn’t shield the eyes of a 12 year old. I am 12 years old. I loved this movie. I didn’t necessarily think this was a completely biblical film, nor did I expect it to be.

I didn’t think this movie was completely clean, and I definitely wouldn’t want anyone under around 10 watching it, unless they were highly mature. But, it’s a great movie. I now own it on 2-disc DVD in 3D with the glasses and everything. It is definitely on my Top 10 list.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Tim, age 12 (USA)
Positive—Listen, I am not trying to be mean here, but parents, never take your kids to see anything that looks dark, scary, creepy, demonic or evil!!!… This movie was for the ages of 12-adult ages. Do not rent this movie for a 6 year old to watch!!!… I love Henry Selick and Tim Burton’s work and you should have seen it coming!!!…

The commercial showed it was going to be scary, so you should have used better judgment and resented!!!… Yeah, they probably would have whined and cried and threw a fit on the floor, but better that than them being introduced to evilness!!!… So do yourselves a favor and next time a Henry Selick or Tim Burton movie comes out… Do not take your kids to see it!!!…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Clover, age 12½ (USA)
Positive—…I’m a Christian, and I saw nothing wrong with the movie or the book… Have you ever been around children that like each other? What she did was an obvious example of how younger children act around one another. Young girls and young boys aren’t supposed to get along, it’s kind of like a law of growing up. I honestly didn’t see anything in the book that was bad. It’s supposed to be a horror story.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Bethany, age 15 (USA)
Positive—“Coraline” was a great movie! I did not find it “very offensive” at all! It had great mystery that made you jump, especially when the other mother showed up that just gives me the chills (not really). It was creative and fun! But, true, is that it was very dark and scary for younger kids, but very creative and mysterious. Recommended!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Andre, age 15 (Canada)
Positive—Okay, I think that everyone who’s calling this movie “satanic” is missing the obvious very Christian allegory that this movie tells. First of all, yes this movie is dark. Depending on the child of course, if they are under 7 they may be scared. But you people need to remember that You can’t constantly filter everything your child watches. You can’t generalize if your child will be scared based on reviews on here.

Anyways, the movie Coraline tells the story of an 11 year old girl named Coraline that moves into the Pink Palace Apartments with her very busy parents. Her parents love her very much, they just have demanding jobs. Coraline is a little snappish and bossy, but that’s how kids are sometimes. She really just feels abandoned and bored, since her parents are always working, and deep down inside has a heart of gold. Also, her relationship with a neighborhood kid named Wybie is certainly not abusive, as the featured reviewer pointed out. He’s just a shy and awkward person, and she’s not that mean to him at all (She even apologizes later). more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Ella, age 17 (USA)
Positive—Personally, “Coraline” is my favorite movie. I’m a Christian, but this movie was amazing, and I don’t really think it was trying to make fun of any religion or anything like that. The only reason I don’t think a kid should watch this is because of how dark and scary it would be to them. I, however, wasn’t creeped out at all when I saw it. It depends on the kid, if they can handle it. I’m 15 right now, and it is my favorite movie, only challenged by “Matilda.” I don’t think kids should watch it until they are old enough to know what scares them, though.

But, religiously, I think it’s okay. *important* I also want to definitely note the complaints of nudity. The mentioned scene where a large breasted woman is only wearing nipple covers and a thong is in fact in the other world, and, if you watch, she unzips her “body” to reveal that it is just a disguise, and underneath she is actually quite small and fully clothed. The same with the other lady. I do understand, however, that at first it’s only natural to assume that is her body. But it isn’t. And I REALLY find it funny that no one writing negative comments has said that part. They just stop on the “nudity” part and don’t give the full picture.

Well, thanks for reading and go see the movie! (It’s great!!!…) **May be offensive to some, I guess.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Zoey, age 15 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I rented this movie for my 6 year old daughter not knowing much about it. She had looked forward to seeing it ever since she saw the first commercial. We did not make it past the theater scene, where Coraline sees a huge chested woman on stage in nothing but pasties and a thong. I was horrified when this came on the TV, and we turned it off immediately! My poor daughter was so disappointed and couldn’t understand why, “they had to ruin the movie.” I strongly recommend not renting this film for anyone, but would definitely tell everyone THIS IS NOT A FILM FOR CHILDREN! I will be checking the reviews before we rent again. Thank you!
—Jodi, age 35 (USA)
Negative—Let me say that I would never take my little brother or sister to see this movie. I have watched many previews for this movie and know that it would probably terrify them, and give them nightmares. I believe the director of this movie is the same as “the nightmare before christmas” and that movie used to give me nightmares. The previews really creeped me out. It seemed very dark and eerie. I don’t know what these people are thinking when they make children’s movies. DON’T TAKE YOUR KIDS TO SEE THIS!! THEY WILL HAVE NIGHTMARES!! Try “Madagascar.” Or “ice age 3.” “Toy Story 3” is also coming out pretty soon!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Christina, age 19 (USA)
Negative—Christian parents read reviews before exposing your children to any movie nowdays. The worlds view creeps in and slowly legitimizes itself in our homes if we are not diligent to be aware. I was excited to view this film. Started out watching it with my 7 yr. old and fell asleep during some of the film. I wish I hadn’t fallen asleep after reading the reveiws. I should have read the reviews first. After waking up and watching it for a while I felt sick when I saw what seemed to be a weegie board (spelling incorrect) on the floor of the girls room and a “looking rock” (she used to see through) seemed to be the piece you use to play the weegie board. I now need to go back and review it once more to see what I unintentionally let my son watch while I slept. Just from what I viewed I will toss this movie literally in the trash. What a waste of a great talented creative medium.
—Rosaline, age 37 (USA)
Neutral—Ok, I have not seen the movie, but I am very much familiar with the book. And from what I’m told, the movie does follow the book quite well (it shouldn’t be hard to adapt, its a short book). Judging by the review, the author seems to have a really out there overreaching view of the story. No definite good and evil? A slam against traditionalism? Umm, there is a distinct line of good and evil in the story. Coraline is bored and selfish and mad cause she doesn’t get what she wants.

She ends up in a world where she gets everything she wants and everything is perfect… almost. This is a classic Good vs Evil scenario and being tempted by the dark side into joining with them. She refuses. She begins to recognize this and tries to escape. As things go a long, everything becomes more evil and twisted as this “perfect world” begins to show its true colors. Coraline realizes she should love her parents for the how they are and that they don’t spoil her with everything. As for the slam against traditionalism making the woman who stays home and cook and all that evil… I just began rolling my eyes at that part. more »
—Christopher, age 25 (USA)
Negative—I have not seen this movie, but by what I have read about it and by the way it looked on the commercial, I don’t think I’ll ever see it! The movie is supposed to be for children, but If I had a child I wouldn’t want it watching that kind of trash. It might scare them! Don’t watch this movie! And don’t pollute your innocent child’s mind!
—Jessica, age 14 (USA)