Monday, February 9, 2009

Coraline Review and Yet another reason I love my niece and nephew

I took my 10 year old niece and 8 year old nephew to see Coraline today. Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I am a big fan of Neil Gaiman’s. I’ve been buying up all of his books at Stacey’s. I stalked him at BEA last year. He’s great.

Until recently, I hadn’t actually read much of his work. My obsession with him stems from reading his super cool blog and from reading Coraline. Coraline is one of my all time favorite books, which, from the beginning, has put the movie at a bit of a disadvantage. While I still couldn’t wait for the movie to come out, I knew that it couldn’t possibly live up to the book.

Which of course it didn’t. Being enamored of the book like I am, the tiny little changes annoyed the purist in me. Changing the setting, adding the character, a couple random songs… meh. I could have lived without those.

I did not see it in 3D. The C-Man was adamant about not seeing it in 3D. Apparently, in his opinion, 3D movies never live up to the hype. Yet, I could tell that it would be pretty cool in 3D and if I can talk Diana into going to it in 3D when we see it, I will. (Yes, I will see it again.)

When the movie was over my niece and nephew both said it was good, but scary. I think that’s the movie’s biggest strength: It’s just the right amount for scary for kids. Neil Gaiman will often say (I’m paraphrasing here) that adults usually find the book terrifying, but kids read it as a grand adventure. In many ways I think the movie is the opposite: Scary for children, a whimsical adventure for adults. At the same time, I think that’s the movie’s biggest flaw: It didn’t work well enough on an adult level. It just didn’t quite hook me in, but maybe that was the book-lover in me unwilling to fully embrace the film.

So, ultimately my review: Good. Not Brilliant. Depending on your kid's temperament, it will scare them but probably not give them nightmares. As an adult, if you've read the book, you know you're taking your chances. If you haven't read the book... I'd love to know what you think of the movie.

My sister posted my niece and nephew’s reviews of the film to her blog. I must admit, it was really cool taking them to the movie. I particularly enjoyed their reactions to it. Princess O for instance said “I liked it but Coraline kept making stupid decisions, like every time she went through the door. I kept telling her not to…” Ah, yes. Welcome to horror movies my dear. But the comment that I particularly enjoyed, was “the only likable character was the cat.” Ah… the long-form improvisor in me was so proud. Not only is she cognizant of the concept of “likeable” characters, but she’s looking for them and able to articulate the most likeable one. (And she’s right. The cat is the most likable character in the movie.)

Then riding home the C-Man said “You have to pay attention to the beginning. That’s there they establish the characters and all the stuff at the end takes place there.” Ah… again. So proud. Only 8 and already he has a firm grasp of narrative structure.

They could give notes at our shows.

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.