This movie will scare the bejabbers out of any child between the ages of 5 and 10. It really IS a spooky story for pre-teens: walls teeming with soon-to-be-squashed silverfish, skittering spiders, pretty vines that turn homicidal, and "nice" parents who want to replace a child's eyes by sewing on buttons with a long sharp needle... Yikes!

I think the message is: "Be careful what you wish for."

Coraline is a petulant little brat, maybe 8 or 9 years old; her family recently moved and she is in a snit because she doesn't like the rundown house, she doesn't like the healthy food they eat, she doesn't like the eccentric neighbors and she doesn't like the homely little boy who tries to be friends. As a side note, that little boy seems to suffer from "wry neck" or torticollis. It is never alluded to, but is painfully obvious in every scene where he appears. I'm still puzzled: Why give such a distinctive characteristic to a cartoon character?

Our dauntless little girl ventures through a small door that she discovers as she snoops around her new digs. She wants different parents, different food, different clothes and a different life. She finds herself in an alternate world where things resemble the ones she left but instantly she has indulgent parents, is offered delicious food, gets colorful new clothes, enjoys the beautiful landscape and is tempted to stay....but that button/eye/needle thing is looking like a deal breaker. And she HATES that mangy cat, which seems able to move between alternate realities with ease.

The characters are voiced by well-known performers but none have distinctive traits, so I won't list them. I found the animation to be particularly interesting. This stop-action movie is in 3D, so insects and birds fly out over the audience, the "rabbit hole"-type tunnel our heroine uses has real depth, and spiders abound!

The Writer/Director Henry Selick ("Nightmare Before Christmas" and "James and the Giant Peach") brings his distinctive style back to the screen. One of the characters is a buxom performer with pneumatic breasts, waaay over the top; while another has the ungainly build of an Ichabod Crane. On the other hand, some of the humans had highly nuanced expressions and reactions. There is some real talent working in animation these days.

This should keep a child entertained for a couple of creepy hours...