Last night, my husband rented Coraline for Family Movie Night. My daughter has wanted to see this movie since its first preview; the boys did not have an opinion, but I did. It did NOT look like the kind of movie that would leave any of us with warm fuzzies, and more like a movie Tim Burton would enjoy. But, I was outvoted, overruled, and more importantly, absent during the movie rental process. So, I went with it.
This is another movie based on a book, which seems like a good premise, but more and more these movies are turning out well deserved PG ratings instead of simplistic family friendly cinematic adventures for ALL AGES. Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is no exception. This graphic novel won many awards, and being adapted into a movie by director Henry Selick, was an accomplishment on its own. Therefore, I know the literary community accepted this book, and the cinematic community applauded this movie. But, as part of just the plain old Mom Community, I can’t do either.
Without spoiling too much of the plot, this story follows a young girl as she explores her “new”, albeit historically old house. Her parents are self-made workaholics whom mostly ignore her so they can complete their gardening catalog, leaving Coraline to her own devices, thoughts, and dreams. She finds a “secret” door in this old house, and eagerly opens it one afternoon only to find it bricked closed. Completely bummed, she retreats to her bedroom and “boring” toys. Later that night, she follows a mouse as he leads her back to that same door, revealing a secret tunnel to an alternative world. She bravely crawls through the tunnel to find a mirrored world of her own, only….better. The house is cleaner, happier, and more festive. Her “other parents” are more attentive, cook delicious meals, and cater to her every need. They garden together, they shop together, and her mother arranges daily entertainment with the neighbors. There’s just one tiny little catch: they have buttons for eyes. Which, I guess, in and of itself isn’t that odd, but it does provide a freaky moment here and there as Coraline visits the “other world” trying to decide if it’s better than her own. One afternoon, again frustrated with her “real parents,” she retreats to the other world, and her “other parents” reveal a secret. She can stay forever! Forever in this dream-like place where everything is seemingly perfect, but there is again just that one catch. She will need to replace her own eyes with buttons.
This is the point in the movie that all three kids (and, if I’m honest, me) began hiding our eyes at regular intervals until the movie was finally over. I had to talk my six-year-old off the ledge as he fretted over the safety of Coraline’s parents, and wanted to retreat to his own “safe bedroom.” Maybe I should have just turned off the movie, and given up on Family Movie Night for one Saturday, but I pressed onward with the hope that this might show him that “everything works out in the end.” And, I was seriously crossing my fingers that this was an animated adventure that would prove me correct.
I can say without spoiling anything, that it did work out in the end. But, in doing a little research for this post, I realized the book/movie is categorized as fantasy/horror. A horror? Yikes. No wonder it had such a huge creepy factor. It was a kids HORROR movie. Good grief.
This seems to be a new trend in animated features, not necessarily the horror factor, but the increased PG ratings, or mature content in general. Most recently, I shared my thoughts about Where the Wild Things Are, and Kristen over at Shelf Space discussed the newly released Christmas Carol. So, what’s the deal? Are the happy-go-lucky days of movies like The Fox and the Hound or 101 Dalmations long gone? Are we more concerned with fancy computer animation (that in some ways increases the creepy factor) than a feel-good family friendly flick? Or am I already too old-fashioned, and moaning about what “kids these days” like.
Golly gee, I hope not, but in the future, we might just revisit our own movie shelves instead of taking a chance on one of these new-fangled cartoons.