It's easy to pour hyperbole on "Coraline." It may just be the best 3-D movie ever made; the best stop motion movie since Selick's own "The Nightmare Before Christmas"; the only Dakotta Fanning movie that didn't bring out a rash of cutesy, and the best screen adaptation of a Neil Gaiman work, by far. There is fair criticism you may level at it: the plot is overly confusing, too scary for kids, and not as universally crowd-pleasing as the ones in typical animated fare. I will combat by saying that a) it offers richness that demands and will reward repeated viewing, b) who says it was only for kids? and c) no, it is not a 'typical' movie; it is an original, in many ways an "indie" in perspective.
Unusually rich in its symbols, this is story about a girl who travels into an alternate world where her neglectfully busy parents have been replaced by button-eyed, magical dolls, only to find that the perfect world is a lie, (sort of like a colorful candy trail that leads to a bear trap.) There are familiar elements: clearly, Gaiman has traveled over the dream maps of Narnia, Oz and Wonderland, and the eye-popping spectacle may leave the less adventurous cold: "Wait- why the fuck am I looking at some trippy display of dancing rats?" (BECAUSE IT'S WEIRD AND COOL, DUH). But the love and attention paid to every frame would do Pixar proud, even if they would find the on-goings too shockingly uncommercial- OH, another hyperbole: this could be the most hard-core PG movie ever.
Will kids understand why it is that Coraline's parents, (those assholes who blog all day) are eventually found to be preferable than the show-bizzy fantasy doppelgangers? Not unless they've read William Blake. But "Coraline" is an adult's explanation to his offspring: "I am not a better person because growing up has sucked it out of me, but I am an honest and loving parent in my own way, and the reality I can offer is always preferrable to an illusion that will lead you astray."
Coraline's journey doesn't have the streamlined, video-game-level progression of a movie like "Wall-E" or "Finding Nemo"; instead it is a druggy amble. But hazy though its winding, phantasmagorical plot may seen, it has the truthful imprint of mythology: at one point, experience will find itself at conflict with innocence, and we must choose to deal with reality, not dellusion, if we want to escape alive.