Writer/director Henry Selick brings typically elaborate stop-motion animation to Neil Gaiman’s story about a disaffected teen girl who learns to: Be Careful What You Wish For! Visually bewitching, maybe too much so (Selick might find a Hieronymus Bosch canvas lacking in activity), the storyline, about finding a ‘perfect’ alternate family in a parallel universe thru a secret panel door, feels cobbled together in tone & incident magpie style, mostly from Roald Dahl, Madeline L’Engle and Hansel & Gretel; with INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS/’56 as chaser. In spite of the borrowings (because of them?), it all comes across as good spooky fun, with sharp characterizations and creepy elegance in the designs of people & settings. Coraline herself is a super role model, too. If only Selick had a producer less æsthetically like-minded than Tim Burton. Maybe a spell with the less-is-more Aardman Animation folks could help him locate the sweet-spot between too-much and too-little in his work? And what an episode of SHAUN THE SHEEP Selick might make.
DOUBLE-BILL: Instead of finding another stop-motion animation, just rewatch the credit sequence. Twice the fun in hindsight.