Posted on July 21, 2009 at 8:00 am

In the grand tradition of Alice, Dorothy, Milo, and the Pevensie children, Coraline enters a portal to a magical world that is both thrilling and terrifying, one that will both enchant her and demand her greatest resources of courage and integrity. And it will teach her that she does being given whatever she wants is not what she thought — that what she thinks she wants may not be what she wants after all.

Coraline (voice of Dakota Fanning) is bored and lonely. She and her parents have just moved into a new home and she does not know anyone. Her mother (voice of Teri Hatcher) and father (voice of John Hodgman, who plays the PC in the Mac commercials) are distracted and busy with work. While they type away furiously on their computers about gardening, they never actually go outside and plant anything. Coraline meets her neighbors, a pair of one-time performers (voices of Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French), a man training singing mice (voice of Ian McShane), and a boy her age named Wybie (voice of Robert Bailey Jr.), to whom she takes an immediate dislike.

She explores her surroundings and finds a mysterious locked door. Her mother tells her since the house was converted to make apartments it only opens onto a brick wall. But when she tries it herself, it opens into a tube-shaped corridor that leads to a place very like but also very unlike her own home and neighborhood. Everything is brighter and more colorful. The mother and father tell her that they are her Other parents. They sound just like her real parents and they look like them, too, except that they are utterly devoted and attentive and generous, and except for their eyes, which are sewn-on black buttons.

The Other world is enchanting for a while, with all kinds of diversions and performances. Many, like the Other parents, echo the places and characters from home. But then it begins to feel too synthetic and a little creepy. When the Other mother asks her sweetly to replace her eyes with buttons, Coraline goes home. But home is not the same. Something has happened and she will have to return to the Other place for an adventure that will require all of her courage, perseverance, and some growing up, too.

Coraline must follow the storyline and grow disenchanted with the Other place but we have the luxury of reveling in it. The creepier it gets, the more mesmerizing the visuals, ravishingly grotesque and dazzlingly inventive when the Other Mother suddenly elongates, her cheekbones sticking out like flying buttresses and her arms and legs getting spider-y. This is the first stereoscopic 3D film made in the painstakingly meticulous stop-motion system in which no more than 2-4 seconds can be completed each day because every frame requires as many as a thousand tiny adjustments. The 3D effect is all-encompassing and utterly entrancing as we feel as though we are inside the Other world as its uneasy false cheeriness slides away and we discover what is really going on. Like her parents, Coraline has been separated from authenticity of experience, in her case because she is a child. But the journey to the Other world shows her that she has what she needs to become more fully herself and to find a more vivid and vibrant life in the place she once thought of as drab and uninvolving.

Related Tags:


3D Animation Based on a book Fantasy Musical Talking animals Teenagers Tweens

40 Replies to “Coraline”

  1. Did you read the book, Coraline? It’s one of my favorites!! For adults, too, you know. I look forward to seeing the movie.
    I am in favor of FUN (using glitter is always a good idea), and tapping into my happy inner-child and visiting OTHER worlds!
    Janice Taylor
    Beliefnet blogger …
    Slim Down While You Laugh It UP!

  2. Thanks so much, Janice! I did read the book and loved it. Neil Gaiman is always great! And I wouldn’t be a movie critic if I was not in favor of fun and fantasy. After all, I spent part of every single day watching movies.
    This movie makes some changes including the introduction of a new major character but is very true to the book and I can’t wait to see it again. When you see it, let me know what you think!

  3. I’d like to mention that Neil Gaiman, the author of the book on which the movie is based, recently won the Newbery Medal. It’s been a great year for him! Our family loves animation and 3D, so we are excited about this new release. I’ve read the book but my kids have not. For years my older child wasn’t allowed to see a movie based on a book without reading the book first, but I’ve mellowed a lot, so they’ll read the book later.

  4. Thanks, Laura! That’s a good reminder to write something about Gaiman’s Newberry, so watch out for it. When your kids see the movie and then read the book, ask them why they think the movie was different. I believe they added the character of the neighbor boy for two reasons, first, to give boys in the audience someone to identify with and second and more important, because a book can be very interior but on screen the characters have to have someone to interact with and respond to. You can have a very good conversation about the different ways books and movies tell stories.

  5. Thanks for this review. I am taking my nephews to see Coraline tomorrow. I was happy to see your 4th-6th grade age recommendation. I try to be appropriate in choosing films for them, they are in 4th and 6th grade. Looking forward to a good time at the movies with two of my favorite guys. Thanks for the guidelines, good to have a resource to trust.

  6. I was lucky enough to attend the premiere of the movie last night in Portland, Oregon. My pass included an invitation to the party afterwards. The invitation was printed on a purposely-crumpled tag hanging from a replica of the key to the magic door! This type of attention to detail is indicative of the movie as a whole. I, too, couldn’t stop reveling in the amazing artistry of the fantastic goings-on in “other-land”– especially the blooming garden, the mouse performance, and of course the theatre performance with the audience of scotty dogs! (And that wonderful cat character!) The 3-D effect is wonderfully effective, bringing to life the ideas of some extremely creative brains! I think the most spectacular example was the scene in which Coraline is climbing a large spider’s web. My runner-up favorite 3-D effect would have to be Mr. Bobinsky’s bobbing belly! I laughed out loud. All these effects overwhelmed the simple story for me, but this is not a movie for adults, after all, and Coraline’s quest is not intended to rival Frodo’s. It is basically thematically similar to The Wizard of Oz. Coraline discovers that “there’s no place like home”, and bravely sets about restoring everything to its rightful place. I will be curious to see if this film becomes an instant classic for younger audiences. It certainly has the potential to do so. I want to mention the score, as well– lovely music from French composer Bruno Coulais. Everything about this film is impeccably executed. I understand the LAIKA has already begun work on its next project. All I can say, as a Portland area resident and a composer, is that I wish I could be involved in it!!

  7. How great to hear from you, Marjorie! I wish I could have been there in Portland for the premiere. I’ve just come home from seeing it a second time and hope to add some additional thoughts to my review this weekend. You’re right about the detail — I think I could see it several more times before feeling that I had seen it all. It is endlessly inventive and so tactile and immersive. The garden and theater scenes were my favorite.
    Thanks for a wonderful comment, and all best.

  8. Thanks, Linda! It is hard to predict how a child will react to this movie. I saw it again tonight and the younger kids in the audience seemed to handle it well but there are some scary themes (the villain takes children’s eyes) and grotesque images. If your favorite guys scare easily, you’d be better off with “Hotel for Dogs.” Either way, please let me know how it goes.

  9. I’m surprised with your review. I’d like to hear more from parents that brought their children. My children are 8, 10, and 12. It is an artistically intriguing flic for parents indeed, but terrifying for children! My children do not “scare easily” as they are seasoned veterans of peril and adventure in certain movies like all Harry Potter’s, Narnia, Spiderwick, Miyazaki’s films, etc. I almost left the theater during this movie, as I saw a family did leave. My 8 year was on my lap and my 10 year old son was clutching my hand throughout 2/3 of the movie. My 12 year old enjoyed it. The movie is very sinister and creepy. I was shocked to say the least during the “brief apparent comic nudity.” It was not that brief and it involved an aging woman’s enormous breasts with the slightest nipple coverage bouncing all over the place during a cabaret like performance on stage! Comical to some, inappropriate for children. Parents should be forewarned about this movie and I regret not looking into it further before viewing.

  10. Coraline was a fantastic movie. I saw it in 3-D it had the most amazing 3-d images i have ever seen in my life.ifIf i where to rate this movie out of ten i would give it a 10. Ialso read the book last year it was a great and advise you read it befor the movie to see how much the move changess,but it is still the best movie ever.

  11. I saw this movie opening night and thought it was going to be like Nightmare Before Christmas or Corpse Bride. I was very excited for the eye candy; however the graphics were nowhere as good. Additionally, the story was really horrific with terrifying theme’s and characters. Teens were leaving saying how scared they were. The theater was packed with children ages ranging from 3yrs and up and the kids were screaming and I heard parents asking their children if they were scared. This movie definitely should not have been rated PG. If this film was geared towards a pre-teen audience, it should have been rated PG13. I was shocked and stunned as I left the movie and will not allow my child to see this until she is older, like 15.

  12. After reading your review yesterday and watching a spot on the Late Show with David Letterman last night, my husband and I decided to take our 8 year old daughter to see Coraline in 3D. On the way to the movie theater, I told her it was going to be like “Nightmare Before Christmas” and have some scary parts. She said that was o.k. She has always been able to separate reality from fiction very well. And this occasion was no different.
    All three of us, mother, father and daughter thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I didn’t hear anyone crying, screaming or leaving during the show. We attended an early matinee. There was one occasion where she held daddy’s hand, and I did too. We all let out a breath when that part was over. My breath grew steady before Coraline’s did.
    I thought the stop motion animation was amazing. My favorite scene is the one with the jumping mice. We had a lovely discussion at lunch about the possible ways the artists could have filmed that scene.
    I think the decision to take one’s child to a movie is a very personal one. I am confident that my husband and I made the right choice today.
    Thank you, Nell, for your work reviewing movies. You are my first choice for reviews and recommendations.

  13. I took my 4 grandchildren (ages 10, 7 and 5 year old twins) to see the movie.
    They were enchanted by it. Not one was scared. The 5 year old girl loved the 3D (kept reaching for things).
    They only real issue I had was the scene with the scantily dressed lady…the kids asked about it, I said fat ladies should not wear bikinis, issue over!
    We had a great discussion on the way home about what the movie really meant and all the kids “got it”. I would highly recommend this movie!

  14. Writer Neil Gaiman is a second generation Scietologist, he grew up in the cult and the members of his family are all high-ranking Scientologists. As a kid he was audited (questioned with lie detector equipment) and drilled to eliminate emotions such as grief, shame and sorrow which are seen as weak, even though these emotions teach us compassion. Gaiman’s stories are emotionally strange and grim as if he has no control and life is just about survival. Coraline appears to be an allegory for Gaiman’s involvement in Scientology. Good parents ignore you while evil parents interrogate, spy and turn unsuspecting children into brainwashed zombies, stealing their souls and replacing their eyes with buttons. The ethical thread of Coraline is unnerving, stay at home where you are ignored and disregarded because the outside world is dangerous. Bruno Bettelheim in The Uses of Enchantment examined the concept that a fairytale can be scary as hell as long as it strengthens the child’s ability to cope. This film seemed to strengthen the child’s ability to give up and follow the status quo.

  15. That’s a fascinating perspective, Melody, and I share your interest in Bettelheim’s theories, though I do not always agree with him. I do agree, however, with his view that the reason for the enduring power of very violent fairy tales was the way they address our deepest emotional uncertainties and that bowdlerizing them does not do children any favors.
    I have a different interpretation of the film, however. I don’t think he is saying that life is about survival or that the outside world is too treacherous to take on; on the contrary. I think that it is very much in the tradition of other stories about children who go to magical lands filled with wonder only to spend the whole time wanting to get back home. These stories are metaphors for the first steps into the adult world, which seems mysterious and magical to children because of the power adults have and because they don’t understand and are kept away from it. I still dream sometimes about what lies beyond the corner I was not allowed to cross when I was five even though I grew up there and later crossed it many, many times.
    Coraline thinks her parents are ignoring her but we in the audience see that they may be distracted and stressed but they are affectionate and caring. Like all children, she wishes for parents who care for nothing but her and do everything she wants. But like all story characters who get their wishes, she finds that it is not what she wants after all. She learns that she would rather have an independent spirit and spend some time being anxious and frustrated than accept the Other Mother’s gifts. And she takes her first steps into adulthood by understanding some of the complexity of desire and being willing to risk her own happiness and safety to save others. She also realizes the value of the real creatures in her life, not just her parents but her neighbors and the cat. The villain in this movie reminded me of the witch in Hansel and Gretel with the house made of candy to attract the prey. And it was not the souls of the children she stole — they remained intact and encouraged and helped Coraline defeat the Other Mother.
    Thanks again; I appreciate your comment, which helped me to think about the movie’s themes.

  16. I went to this movie with my 7 yr. old daughter. My 12 yr. old daughter went with her friends and sat somewhere else in the theater. I was enjoying the movie until the scene with the fat lady and her pasties. My daughter reached up and told me to “cover your eyes mom”. I was horrified. Why must they put this filth in a PG movie. Kids will be there!!! I was disgusted. I asked my other daughter and her friends what they thought. They told me they were disturbed by that part. They didn’t want to see an old lady in a thong. I realize it was a fat suit, but come on!! This movie really should have been PG-13.

  17. Hearing a few reviews use the phrase ‘enchanting like Alice in Wonderland’ I dared to take my kindergartener to this movie. My daughter is able to distinguish reality from fiction. Although I thought, I would never let her see Nightmare before Christmas, I went ahead hearing the comparison to alice in my head.
    What is wrong with this movie? I waited for magical things to pop out at us as we wore our 3D glasses and it never came.
    I was disgusted by the ‘fat suit and pasties’.
    I was disturbed by Coraline finding children who let the ‘other mother’ sew buttons on their eyes right before she ate their souls.
    This was the first movie (including spiderwick) that my daughter said, Mom! I am really scared. We decided to stay until the end so the memory of the movie ended with a happy note.
    As we walked to our car, we balled up the ‘movie’ in our hand and threw it back.
    Thankfully when I asked her about it that night & the next day, she said “Mom are you still worrying about that movie? Remember, its only a stupid movie.”
    I know there is a deeper meaning that people enjoy analyzing. But my daughter, who left saying that is not anything like Alice!, was not one of those people.
    How is this enchanting or even entertaining?

  18. I am sorry you had that experience. I like the way you handled it, though I think leaving when she was uncomfortable would have been just as good. Adults are more satisfied by a positive plot resolution than a child is because they tend to think in terms of individual images and scenes more than storylines and I imagine she was reassuring herself as well as you the next morning. I made it very clear in the review that the images were very macabre and grotesque, similar to “Nightmare,” made by the same director and that it was not intended for young children. But keep in mind that it is in the tradition of fairy tales and other bloodthirsty stories about children who triumph over evil that go back thousands of years because of their enduring ability to help all of us process our fears.

  19. I just wanted to say thank you for your review and this excellent forum.
    I’ve been a fan of Gaiman’s for many years now, since the late 80’s, and I loved reading Coraline myself. I gave the book to my daughter a couple of years ago, when she was 9, and I think it was a little intense for her. To that end, I’ve been wrestling with the idea of taking her to this movie. She devours fantasy books, and now, at 11, has moved on to some of the more young-adult authors of that genre, but knowing her reaction to the book a couple of years ago, I had my doubts. However, after reading your review, I think she’ll be ready for this one.
    Thanks for the always-informative reviews!!

  20. The movie was great, but I was really surprised it was rated PG considering a large breasted woman in a thong and pasties on her nipples was in several scenes! My kids and I were shocked by that one! I don’t suggest taking the little ones to this, the movie definitely has frightening themes!

  21. I read Coraline a few years back and found it to be an amazing short story. I fell in love with it and was excited to see the film which I enjoyed immensely. I found the book to be a little intense for very young readers and would recommend it to a more young-adult audience, maybe for those in 6th grade at least. As for the film, I did find it rather surprising that many parents took their very young children (such as the age of 4) to watch it and I’m sure they didn’t expect certain scenes and how frightening the story can be to a young child. However, I did laugh a little when I heard the gasps of parents reacting to the “body suit” sequence.
    My advice to those and other parents, know what you’re taking your child to watch. And maybe read the story and learn what it’s about before making such a decision. Don’t be so naive. As for me, I will be seeing this film more than once! It was brilliant!

  22. Thanks for a great comment, George! I am a bit surprised that I heard more complaints from parents about the “body suit” than about the scariness of the spidery predator or the ghost children. I’ve seen the movie twice already and am planning a third visit. It is amazing.

  23. This movie was ridiculous. It should have been rated pg-13. It had a big fat women with enormous breasts in the nude except for a thong and pasties. Whoever put this in a children’s story should be ashamed of themselves. The movie was very scary, and the two girls (about 12 yrs. old) behind us teared up and had to ask their parents questions about the misunderstood darkness of the movie. Their were not many redeeming qualities either, as the girl only wants to leave horrorville after the people want to take her eyes out and sew buttons in their place, and escaping only after throwing someone else (albeit non-human) in her way. I was excited to see the movie, as I thought it would be Tim Burtonesque, but it trades its lighthearted humor for demented darkness. I am 36, and thought the movie had some wonderful effects, but I would not bring my child to the movie (If I had, we would have definitely left.

  24. Thank you, Robert. I agree that this is not a movie for young children, though as you can see from some of the other comments, some kids are fine with it. This is one where you really have to know your own child. It is interesting to me, though, that it did not live up to your expectation that it would be a Tim Burton-style film because I thought it was very much like his style, which can be very dark. And I had a different interpretation of the story. As is typical in many of these stories about a child finding an alternate universe, there are many metaphors about entering the adult world and giving up fantasy for reality. As happens in many stories of all categories, the lead character finds that what she thought she wanted was very different from her expectation and what was superficially appealing was ultimately not right or healthy. And as also happens in many stories, she finds that she must draw on strength and integrity and other resources she was not aware she had in order to escape — and she must reverse the role of childhood and become the caretaker not just for her parents but for the souls of the lost children as well.
    I appreciate your comments, which will be most helpful for parents and others who are making the decision about whether the film is appropriate for them.

  25. We took our children to see this movie last weekend. My husband, my 11 year old and I all thought this movie was horrible. My 6 year old thought it was good until the “Other mother” turned into the creepy spider thing. I didn’t think the 3D was that good, having seen Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D with Brendan Fraser. In my opinion, Coraline was not all that it was made out to be. My 2 year old is generally able to sit and watch something, but this didn’t even draw her attention for 5 minutes. Thank God for the popcorn or we would have had to have left. We did get a refund on the cost of her ticket.

  26. Thanks, Summer. This will be helpful to parents who are trying to decide if the movie is appropriate for their children. As you can see by my review, I am not recommending it for children under middle school age.

  27. My wife and I were so appalled that this movie was rated PG that I sought out the manager of the theatre to complain–even tho I knew that they have nothing to do with the ratings. As a parent, and a psychotherapist of 25 years in practice, I can’t imagine recommending such a film for any child younger than mid-teens. This tale, tho beautifully and artfully told is not just “dark,” it is a psychotic nightmare! At BEST, it would be fodder for months of nightmares from any reasonably sensitive (i.e., psychologically healthy) child, as it toys with their sense of reality by suggesting that even their “home base”–their parent–is worthy of paranoid suspicion. It may be that there are some such parents, and their kids have far worse on their hands than scary movies… but for kids with something left of their innocence, a film like this could be devastating. This is NOT a childrens’ story, as it requires the kind of mature psychological perspective available only to healthy adults. It could conceivably be cathartic for an ADULT raised by a devouring parent, but any healthy child would be deeply traumatized. I can’t imagine what those on the MPAA board were thinking–in my professional opinion, taking a child to see this picture would be tantamount to child abuse!!

  28. I was astounded at the MPAA having given Coraline a PG rating. Until I went to the MPAA website. I cannot even ask what this world is coming to when it is evident that this world is already there and it is a very dark and disturbing place indeed.
    I wonder how many people are aware that a PG movie may contain nudity as long as it is”brief” and not of a “sexual” nature. Using this as a guideline,one might be watching a movie with a four year old and be surprised with a scene of a naked woman dancing on a stage and as long as it is “brief” and she slips on a banana peel and falls on her behind, it’s fine because that is not considered sexual, only humorous. I would have thought that possibility to be laughable but after seeing the woman in Coraline who was nearly nude on a stage with only pasties and a thong, I am sad to realize that my exaggeration is not off the mark.
    There is so much that is wonderful about this film but it is not wonderful for children. Who can know how a child will internalize the themes and images in this movie? To say that a parent is the best judge of what their child can tolerate does not protect that child. It would take a parent who has a healthy mind and is spiritually developed to be a true and fair advocate for the mind and spirit of a child. I am afraid that parents of that sort are in short supply in the world today. How common it is to look about in a theater that is showing an PG13 or R rated movie and see very young children. The effects of these movies on little minds and hearts is not always immediate and evident. It is easier for many parents to say that those like myself are too “uptight” and that their “open” attitude is what is best for their children and who would know better than they? But what of those little voices that go unheard or those who are too young to put into words what they have experienced in viewing movies like Coraline.

  29. I wish I had seen these comments before I took my kids to the movie today!!!! Adults only people! My 16 y/o daughter was ok but, even she was disturbed by the fact that a basically, pornographic image of a fat, large breasted lady wearing a thong and jewels on her nipples! FAT suit, by butt! This was realistic–as we witnessed among the audience filled with nothing but a nervous laughter from children! I was furious! Dr. Sheridan, I appreciate your comments… I am going to consult a psychologist to help us talk to our kids about this–no joke, and I am not one to run to the doctor for silly things. I am now worried about my 5 and 10 y/o sons that were in the theatre with me also. I challenge ALL parents to review ALL movies, even “G” rated before letting their kids see them. Don’t let Hollywood decide what is “decent”… This is ridiculous. This movie is only suitable for older teens/ to adults at best. It is a wonderfully made and well-written story for the older audience, but a horrific, encrypted nightmare for any younger! Nanci, your words were much appreciated as well.
    Melanie H. Red Oak, TX

  30. Thank you so much for your comments, Melanie and Steve. My 8 year old son has been bugging me to see this movie and now I know to definately NOT take him! VERY much appreciate your dialog on this website.

  31. Ann
    April 10, 2009 5:25 PM
    I am surprised by the sign of the devil hand signal given by the “other mom” at one point in this evil Illuminati-friendly flick. It’s chock full of MK Ultra Monarch mind control triggers for the MPD and DID crowd too.
    I was minding my own business today just staying away from my house for a few hours while a real estate agent showed it, so to kill (no pun intended) some time I stopped at the cheap movie theater that shows off-peak movies and the most tame sounding one was something titled “Coraline.” I knew absolutely nothing about this movie since I rarely go to movies anyway and I don’t tend to go looking for the kiddie movies. Was I ever in for a shock.
    The problem with Americans is we’ve been fed such a steady diet of Archonic/demonic mayhem for so long that we can no longer distinguish between that which is certainly not good for children and that which is simply wholesome realistic entertainment with a reasonable moral of the story, i.e., Sarah Plain and Tall, or Pride and Prejudice.
    This movie uses much occult symbology, not the least of which is the satanic looking circle around the entrance to the deep well in some of the earliest scenes; the pentagram-like circles on the floor inside the house; circus themes; the Baphomet hand signal or sign of the horned devil hand gesture I mentioned above; mirrors and broken glass imagery; the spider’s web and giant insects. Of course, most of you were not unaware of the more obvious witchcraft themes, but these I’ve mentioned I would not expect the vast majority of Americans to recognize anyway.
    We have been conditioned ever so subtly over the last 60 years – maybe much longer than that – to accept and trivialize witchcraft in all its deviant forms (hyper-sexuality, deviant sexuality, murder, iconography/idolatry, voodoo) through the very movies and stories that the host of this blog mentions in her writing above. It is no wonder parents struggle now with whether or not this foul pandemonium (notice that word at the very beginning of this movie, folks? The producers are Laika in collaboration with Pandemonium)of a scourge ought to be shown to kids.
    I would be remiss not to make mention of another MPD/DID trigger theme in this very disturbing and evil mind control movie. 1. The name of the house is the Pink Palace Apartments. In an old report from one investigator in the Jon Benet Ramsey murder case reference is made to a number of children who’d been rescued from an international child porn ring. Quite a number of the kids testified about having attended parties at a very large pink house or mansion where they were used as sex toys for adults and as servants to serve food and drinks to adults. They named names of adults they saw there. Some of those names are those of people who even now hold positions of political power in this nation America. 2. Coraline in the very first scene is using an ancient form of divination (dousing to find water underground).

  32. Coraline scared the living daylights out of my 9 year old son. We ended up having to leave the movie shortly before it ended. When the parents were kidnapped by the “other mother”, he said, “Mom, we have to leave now!” He had nightmares for a week. I really wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone who has a child with a “sensitive soul”.

  33. Thanks very much, Kim. Good for you for leaving when your son was upset. This is a movie that has elicited a very wide range of reactions from kids. Your comment will be very helpful for parents trying to decide whether this film is appropriate for their “sensitive souls.”

  34. Are u kidding me? This movie was amazing, and visually stunning! 5 year olds in the theatre all came out form the movie happy and energetic. Parents, keep feeding your children with Jonas Brothers concerts and see where that gets you. The concept of an evil force wanting to destroy a good person who in the end triumphs and becomes heroic, has been seen before. You all grew up with movies like Snow-White (old witch that gets killed and eaten by vultures) and Little Mermaid (so many half naked bodies that you wouldn’t even find in a strip club), so why is this a problem? 2 or 3 images could be considered disturbing but other than that this movie is a “horror” film for kids… Also Kim, instead of letting your child see the happy ending and that all is well, u leave your child wondering whether the parents survived or not?? Way to go!!!

  35. Hi Nell –
    Keep up the good work reviewing movies. I watched this movie with my 16-year-old daughter on DVD, and we both found it disturbing. I can’t imagine a younger child enjoying this movie! Although the movie story is creative, and the artwork is to be admired, I thought the story line of replacing someone’s eyes with buttons creepy beyond belief. I mean, really! Who thinks of those ideas?
    By the way, I read your reviews for general advice on movies, not just for screening movies for children.
    Thanks for the thoughtful advice over the years – Corinne

  36. Thanks so much, Corinne. I am really happy that you like my reviews as well as my parental guidance. And yes, it does have some disturbing and grisly images. Nightmarish stories hark back to the oldest myths and fairy tales and according to many sources serve a cathartic function in the audiences. The persistence and increasingly graphic plots and images of the horror genre (to the point where I won’t even see them) speaks to this, too, I think.

  37. Dear Nell,
    Thank you so much for providing reviews like these. I was a “sensitive” child myself, and my daughter is exactly the same. I was able to tell by the previews that this movie was definitely not for her, but I’ve used your reviews before to check out movies. Sometimes my family makes fun of me, but they don’t understand what it’s like to be so sensitive. Certain movies are quite terrifying to certain children, and I don’t want to take her to movies that will upset her or cause her nightmares for weeks.
    Your reviews are great, and greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

  38. Thanks to you, Jennifer! I am always glad when someone reminds the other visitors to the site that everyone is different, everyone processes information differently, and no one should tell anyone else what should or should not feel scary to them. “Sensitive” is a good word. Early studies show that different people actually have different portions of their brains engaged as they watch. “Sensitive” people engage the same portion of the brain that is engaged when something is happening in real life. This is a wonderful quality as it enables a very deep empathy and compassion. But it can be difficult to communicate it to those who genuinely enjoy intense, violent, upsetting content in films. I really appreciate your willingness to illuminate this issue and I hope you will comment often on the movies you and your daughter see.

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