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Western Animation: Coraline
Trust us, sometimes Light Is Not Good when you go down the rabbit hole.

"You know, you could stay forever, if you want to. There's just one tiny thing we have to do first..."
Other Mother

The Film of the Book of Coraline, with Henry Selick of The Nightmare Before Christmas fame as director and writer. It was released on February 6, 2009 and it's the first Stop Motion movie filmed with a 3-D camera (however, the 3-D viewings were in limited locations for a few weeks).

Coraline Jones moves from Pontiac, Michigan with her mother and father to the Pink Palace Apartments in Ashland, Oregon: an old house subdivided into three residences. With her parents frantically working on a gardening catalog in order to make ends meet and paying little attention to her, Coraline begins to feel neglected. While exploring the house, she discovers a small door with a brick wall behind it. That night, she is awoken by a mouse in her room, which she chases to the small door. She opens it, but instead of a brick wall, she finds a long, glowing passage, leading to another world.

At the other end, Coraline finds herself in the "Other World", which is inhabited by her "Other Mother" and "Other Father", who are perfect, idealized doubles of her real parents, except with black buttons in place of their eyes, and they pay close attention to Coraline. After enjoying a home-cooked meal made by the Other Mother, she spends the night in the Other World and awakens back in her bed in the real world.

Coraline continues to go to the Other World at night and is entertained by the various delights present, including idealized versions of her neighbors, a beautiful garden built in her image, and delicious food. Coraline begins to prefer the Other World to her real one, finding that she is receiving the love and attention from her other parents she is lacking at home. Eventually, the Other Mother offers to let Coraline stay in their world forever, on one condition:

That she has buttons sewn into her eyes.

When she refuses, the film takes a dark turn as the Other Mother attempts to force Coraline to stay in her world, and Coraline must rely on her bravery and wits to get back home.

The film contains the following examples:

  • 3D Movie: Actually used to great effect in distinguishing the normal world from Other World. The 3D effects in the normal world are generally very subtle and only crop up when they make sense. The Other World uses it to jack up the already surreal nature of everything even further.
  • Abandoned Warehouse: Where the movie was made.
  • Accidental Misnaming: In the real world, all the neighbors call the titular girl "Caroline", which she hates. One of the more slight diferences of the Other World is that everybody says her name correctly.
  • Acrofatic: Bobinsky.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the film, the Other Mother starts off looking exactly like Coraline's mother, but with button-eyes, then transforms into a creepier, taller, skinnier form. The book has her in the latter form from the start.
    • Inverted later in the film as well. The Other Mother's final form doesn't look anywhere near so monstrous in the book.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Literally. In the book, Coraline has brown hair. In the film, her hair is blue, but a picture of Coraline when she was younger has brown hair, implying it's dyed in-universe, which seems consistent with her fashion sense.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The new character of Wybie, the Coraline doll, and the extended trips into the other world.
    • More backstory is given to Coraline and her parents, explaining why they ignore her so much and why she would be willing to abandon them for a dream world so casually.
    • Apparently Gaiman himself requested this trope. He saw that the original script was almost exactly like the book and told them to make some changes. After all, if someone wanted something exactly like the book, they had the book.
      • Also, since exposition doesn't work quite the same way in movies as in books, the addition of Wybie was sort of necessary, as Gaiman himself has said.
  • Adorkable: Wybie.
  • Adults Are Useless: Averted. Bobinsky, Spink and Forcible, and later, Coraline's mother, each give Coraline warnings against danger (it's only because she ignores them that the warnings amount to nothing), and Spink and Forcible give Coraline an important piece of Applied Phlebotinum that turns out to be a useful tool in finding the ghost children's eyes.
    • Wybie's grandmother also suspects that the house had something to do with her vanished sister and thus tries to keep other children from staying there.
    • The Other Father also tries to fight The Other Mother's control because he doesn't want to hurt Coraline. Before he plummets to his death, he tosses her one of the souls she needs to escape.
  • Adult Fear: The chilling, very real fear of many working parents is that harm could come to their child because they're too busy to pay attention to them. Coraline's parents aren't purposefully neglecting her, but it is their lack of attentiveness that leads to their daughter getting into some serious trouble...
    • Wybie's grandmother had a twin sister who mysteriously disappeared, and we find out that the sister was killed by the Other Mother. She than spends presumably Wybie's whole life (until the end of the movie) afraid that he's going to wander into the Pink Palace despite her warnings and disappear forever. Poor Grandma...
  • The Alcoholic: Coraline's mother gives this as the reason for Mr. Bobinsky's...eccentricity. However, it's also possible that it has the same cause as Amazing Technicolor Population below, or that (given all the other weirdness in the story) The Cloud Cuckoolander Was Right.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Mr. Bobinsky. It is implied via the medal he wears that his blue skin (and possibly eccentric disposition) is due to being one of the Liquidators who cleaned up Chernobyl.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Wybie is a light-skinned African-American with brown curly hair. It's possible he's actually mixed-race; his grandmother is more obviously black.
    • In a deleted scene Coraline asks Wybie if his grandmother is black, which Wybie confirms.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Other Father.
  • Arachnid Appearance and Attire: The Other Mother near the end, even with a web themed room with bug furniture.
  • Beneath the Mask: Horribly shown with The Other mother after we discover the real reason she invited Coraline to her world.
  • Big Bad: The Other Mother.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Subverted. Wybie comes in at the last minute to save Coraline from the Other Mother's hand but crashes his bike.
  • Big Eater: With the exception of her father's cooking, Coraline eats quite a bit throughout the film.
  • Big "NO!": Charlie Jones does this when Coraline accidentally erases all of his work on his computer.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The Other Spink and Forcible's theater is absolutely massive compared to the exterior size of the house. Of course, the Other Mother created it, so normal laws of physics need not apply.
    • This also applies to the Other Mr Bobinsky's circus tent.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The Other Mother.
  • Black and Nerdy: Wybie.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Ms. Forcible, Coraline and Ms. Spink when seen together.
    • Also, the Other Forcible, the Other Mother, and the Other Spink.
  • Brick Joke: The bowl of candy.
  • Canon Foreigner: Wybourne "Wybie" Lovat.
  • Casting Gag: Misses Spink and Forcible are voiced by Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French respectively.
  • Cats Are Magic: The black cat, who can talk in the Other Mother's universe and acts as a sort of Mentor towards Coraline.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Again, the black cat. (Voiced by Keith David in all his glory).
  • Cats Are Superior: Bingo, black cat. Snarky, deadpan, aloof, insulting, arrogant - but willing to help in Coraline's time of need and vital to her confrontation with the Other Mother.
  • Cerebus Call Back: Mr Bobinski's circus is one of the things that wows Coraline on her second visit and is the sight of some amusing moments. When she looks for the second ghost child's eyes she ends up getting attacked by everything in the circus. And the cute jumping mice turn out to be rats in disguise.
  • Character Development: Coraline goes from a whiny, snarky, and rude kid to being more appreciative of what she has and kinder to her parents, neighbors, and Wybie.
  • Character Exaggeration: In the book, Mr. Bobo simply happens to be Slavic (Russia isn't even mentioned, actually); it's not even implied that he has an accent until Misses Spink and Forcible happen to talk about him near the end of the book. However, the movie makes Bobinsky extremely weird and extremely Russian.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The eyes of the three ghost children and arguably the piano's hands.
    • If there's a such thing as Chekhov's Word, then the mentioning of the game hide-and-seek definitely fits.
    • The snow globes.
    • The well.
    • The opening sequence with the doll being remade?
    • The green stone near the end.
    • The Other Mother's chicken oven mitt, which was repurposed by the other Wybie to hide his disfigured Glasgow Smile.
    • "Rat crap."
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The cat.
  • Chess with Death: Coraline searching for ghost children's hidden eyes, and for her parents, in exchange for everyone being released, vs. her agreeing to stay with Other Mother if she fails.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Wybie and Bobinsky.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Coraline. To escape the Other Mother, she throws the Cat at her face (which results in her buttons being torn off). Note that the Cat wasn't in on this plan.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: Wybie (and the Other Wybie). In Real Wybie's case it may be down to the fact he's seen riding a bike most of the time. That and there's a poison oak bush near the Pink Palace. Later in the film Other Wybie removes his glove to show Coraline he's just sawdust.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Coraline's father's cooking is awful.
  • Costume Porn: With miniatures, no less.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The Other World.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: Spink's a dog lady.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: No one would be crazy enough to work with an unheard-of small studio to make a stop-motion adaptation of a moderately popular children's book and releasing it at the time of the year where most people are anticipating lots of big-budget blockbusters backed by big-name studios and directors, right?
    • The animation counts as well.
  • Creepy Child:
    • The Ghost Children. Especially the one with her mouth frozen open in an expression of perpetual horror. Although they're actually quite nice.
    • Depending on your point of view, the other Wybie could qualify in the beginning. There's just something creepy about his constant smile.
  • Creepy Children Singing: The bulk of the soundtrack.
  • Creepy Doll: A doll modeled after Coraline's likeness shows up early on in the movie. The Other Mother uses it to spy on her prey.
  • Cute Mute: The Other Wybie.
  • Dark Is/Is Not Evil: Both tropes come into play here: One the one hand, the Other World is in a constant state of nightfall, which makes things look pretty threatening later on, and the buildings are more dimly-lit in the climax than they were earlier. On the other hand, it is a black cat who helps Coraline the most while she's in the Other World.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Coraline and the cat, but especially the cat.
    Coraline: Wybie's got a cat like you at home. Not the quiet Wybie, the one that talks too much. You must be the other cat.
    The cat: No, I'm not the other anything. I'm me.
    Coraline: Um, I can see you don't have button eyes, but if you're the same cat, how can you talk?
    The cat: I just can.
    Coraline: Cats don't talk at home.
    The cat: No? (sarcastically) Well, you're clearly the expert on these things.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: Especially in the scenes where the other world starts to disappear.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Coraline's Other Mother.
  • Eyeless Face: The Other Mother at the end.
  • Eye Scream: "Black is traditional... But if you'd prefer pink... or vermilion... or chartreuse... Though you might make me jealous!" The fact that there's a needle next to the buttons makes it that much worse...
  • The Fair Folk: The Other Mother, just human enough to know she's a mystery.
  • False Utopia: The Other World.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • The beginning half of the other Spink and Forcible's stage play... ugh. Both of the old women are practically naked, with only their nipples and crotch covered up. No amount of Brain Bleach will ever clear that out of your mind.
    • The last part of their routine is pure Fanservice though.
    • Also, when the Other Mother transforms, her shirt becomes very low-cut, but since she's so hideous you don't even want to see it.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Other Mother.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Coraline and Wybie bond by fighting the Other Mother's evil hand of doom.
  • Five-Bad Band:
  • Food Porn: The dinner/breakfast/food scenes in the other world, despite the fact that the foods are fake.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The words in the Other Father's song become much more sinister and foreboding once you find out they want to put buttons in her eyes.
      • It very vaguely regains its happiness when you realize it was a warning to Coraline of what was coming to her. Didn't go through, but hey, he can say he tried...
    • The Other Mother refers to her husband as "Pumpkin". She turns him into a pumpkin-like beast to fight Coraline. Poor guy can't catch a break. It's most likely that the Other Father was originally a pumpkin from the garden that gradually reverted back to its true form as the world started to unravel; most other creations of the Other Mother ended up being shown as being appropriated from various flotsam like the rats and bugs.
    • In the Other House's dining room there's three frames, each with the silhouette portrait of a child in them.
    • Very subtle, but the Other Spink and Forcible's highwire act is performed to the famous "Can-Can" song. For those in the know, that piece is from the operetta "Orpheus in the Underworld", based on a Greek myth about a young man who crosses into the underworld to plead with its ruler for the life of a loved one.
    • One of the Ghost Children says, as Coraline is collecting their eyes, "Hurry girl, her web is unwinding!"
    • And the most obvious one has to be the hand in the tea leaves. That's just Spink. Forcible sees the toy giraffe that tries to convince Coraline she's losing it when she tries to escape from the other world.
    • :"This piano... plays me."
    • The very subtle split-second sign of the Other Father's stitches coming loose in the piano scene.
    • The Other Mother's outfits begin to have a certain resemblance to a black widow spider.
    • Coraline's first visit to Other world, after she asks "What rain?" there's a lightning flash with the Other Mother's real hand on the end.
    • The other Spink and Forcible do the "What A Piece Of Work Is Man" monologue. Hamlet was a tragedy.
      • Hamlet was mocking humans during that speech. Anyone familiar with the speech has to wonder why they stopped before getting to its conclusion.
    • A possible one, depending on how you take it, is the Other Mother telling Coraline "It's all made up" on her first visit. The Other World certainly seems to be.
    • At the beginning of the movie, Wybie tells Coraline that his grandmother doesn't normally rent to families with kids. Why would that be, one wonders...?
    • Wybie mentions that the cat usually gives him little treats of dead animals every now and then. Those wouldn't happen to be rats from the Other World, would they?
  • Foreign Sounding Gibberish: The general consensus as to exactly what they are saying in choral numbers like Exploration and Dreaming, and of course the end credits song.
    • Closed captions just call it "Child/Children singing nonsense words".
  • Funny Foreigner: The rechristened-for-the-movie Mr. Bobinsky.
  • Gag Boobs: Ms. Forcible. Emphasis on "gag".
    *As Miss Forcible turns*
    Coraline: Oh my god.
  • Game Face: The Other Mother.
  • Garden of Evil
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • Combined with the Fan Disservice and Gag Boobs above. Apparently, it's okay to show a naked old lady as long as there's paint to cover her up.
    • In the introductory scene of Ms. Spink and Forcible, look closely. Spink's nipples are erect. How did they sneak that in?
    • The tits vs. ass argument, in song, in a PG film.
      • "If you go swimmin' with bow-legged women...", "a big-bottomed sea witch...", "beware of old oysters too large in the chest..."
    • "our mother's golden... chicken breast!" or "I have a writer's rash, right on my... (mother clears throat to stop father from talking)" or the near-castration of Mr. Bobinsky, etc. etc. etc...
    • Apparently there was a lot of discussion about the famous naked Spink and Forcible scene, specifically exactly how much they could get away with. Selick said he convinced the company to let it slide because Forcible was not only covering her naughty bits, but was also spoofing a socially acceptable, famous painting.
    • The soundtrack for that bit is even better. For some reason, they left in Spink and Forcible's exclamations at the end of the first act, where the scenery collapses. Stripped of its context, they sound, er, like something else.
    • How about that fact that when we first met Spink and Forcible we find (by way of all of the posters) they are ex-burlesque dancers? Kids may not get it but the parents (or grandparents) must have been thinking "How did that get there?"
      • It's worse than that. As the posters are all references to Shakespeare, this is quite likely a reference to a strip club that got around a city's attempt to ban stripping by having the girls perform Shakespeare in the nude. So it's basically a reference to actual stripping instead of just dancing around in your undies.
    • To give it all perspective, the movie was rated PG in theaters, but is tagged with a TV-14 on U.S. television airings, although the heavy doses of Nightmare Fuel surely aided that decision.
  • Ghost Amnesia: The ghost children don't remember their names.
  • Giant Spider: The Other Mother's "true" form ends up seeming to be this.
  • Glamour Failure: The black button eyes, of course, but as Coraline continues to get to know the Other world the harder it is for the Other Mother to hide its true nature.
  • Glasgow Smile: Played with. The Other Mother freezes Other!Wybie's face into a perpetual smile when she takes away his voice, and later sews it into an even more hideous smile.
  • Good All Along: The Other Father. Even though he's a slave to the Other Mother's will, there are clearly moments early-on when he's using whatever limited freedom he has to help and warn Coraline. His piano song is trying to drop hints that the Other Mother is constantly watching her. When Coraline rejects having buttons sown into her eyes, the Other Father is smirking at her failure. Then he goes the extra mile trying to demonstrate how painful the process is, only to receive a sharp kick from the Other Mother.
  • Groin Attack: Narrowly averted when Mr. Bobinsky jumps off his deck and almost lands on Coraline, with his crotch coming within inches of the pair of garden trimmers she had in her hand.
  • Harmful to Minors: Averted. Coraline laughs at naked women, though not as much as real-life children would.
  • Hartman Hips: Coraline's mother, the Other Mother, and the Other Spink.
  • Hates Being Touched: The Other Mother won't keep her hands off her, and Coraline is evidently uncomfortable with it.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • The Other Father.
    • The Other Wybie qualifies as well. He had a smile sewn into his face for Coraline. Then his hand dissolved. Then he knowingly helped Coraline out of the mirror, into the parlor, past the bug thing, and into the tunnel, putting a good deal of effort into it all, while knowing that the Other Mother would kill him for it.
  • Hypocrite: The Other Mother cheats like crazy and wouldn't have let Coraline go whether she'd won the game or not, but is furious when Coraline throws the cat at her to turn the tables; "You horrible, cheating girl!!!"
  • Hypocritical Humour: "I'm way too old for dolls". Cue her immediately playing with the doll all day and naming it "Little Me".
  • I Do Not Drink Wine: The Other Mother is a fantastic chef, but while the Other Father and Coraline pile their plates with her food, we never see a speck on the Other Mother's plate. We find out her diet later...
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: The Other Father, passing on the first ghost eye.
    "Taaaaaake iiiiit..."
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: The Other Spink and Forcible.
  • Improvised Weapon: Our heroine takes down the villain with a live cat. By throwing it as hard as she can. Yikes.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Inverted: it's been advertised as being "from Henry Selick, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas", which most people associate with its producer, Tim Burton.
    • This was actually a later addition as early ads only billed it as "from the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas" most likely in the hopes that people who only know Nightmare as being a Tim Burton film would assume he directed it.
  • Infant Immortality:
    • Thrown for a violent loop with the final fate of the poor, sweet Other Wybie.
    • Implied aversion with the ghost children.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Coraline seems to become this with her neighbors at the Pink Palace Apartment.
  • Irony: Coraline states that even though her parents write about gardening catalogues her mother hates dirt.
  • Jacob Marley Warning: The three ghost children give this to Coraline when she meets them behind the mirror, telling her how their souls were devoured by the Other Mother.
  • Jump Scare: There are a few.
    • Coraline suddenly gets grabbed by the Other Spink and Forcible monster.
    • A more mild one when Coraline is approaching the real world Spink and Forcible's apartment and the dogs jump up suddenly, complete with their "infernal yapping."
  • Know Your Vines: The title character brushes some leaves off a stick and uses it as a water rod. She meets Wybie, and has a fairly long conversation with him, and at the end he throws in that the stick she's holding is poison oak.
  • Leitmotif:
    • Arguably "Dreaming" for the Other world in general. The Other Mother even hums it.
    • Coraline has one in the form of "Exploration"
    • Wybie has two.
  • Lighter and Softer: They actually toned down the creepiness from the book, believe it or not.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Notice how Coraline punches Wybie on the shoulder at the end. It's the same way Mel punched Charlie's shoulder earlier. Let the shipping commence!
    • Plus, if you count how both couples have similar personality traits.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Spink and Forcible. (Their relationship isn't explicit in the story, but Gaiman confirmed it on his tumblr.)
  • Little Miss Snarker: Coraline.
  • Madness Mantra: Once Coraline barricades herself in her room, she hops under the covers and says to herself, "Go to sleep," over and over again.
  • Match Cut: The shot of Coraline leaning back in her chair to her falling into bed.
  • Messy Hair: Wybie, complete with twigs and leaves.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: The Other Wybie and later on the Other Father.
  • Monochrome Apparition: The ghost children are of pale blueish color.
  • Mood Whiplash: The film is famous for transitioning from fantasy to horror at the halfway point, when the true intentions of the Other Mother are revealed.
  • Mysterious Animal Senses: The Cat was able to talk to Other Wybie, even though he couldn't speak. He even told Coraline that cats have far superior senses than humans, at which the Genre Savvy Coraline immediately rolled her eyes. There's also his ability to get between worlds on his own, which is pretty impressive.
  • Mysterious Protector: The Cat followed and watched over Coraline for some time before making himself known to her.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Many people thought that the movie looked too "cutesy", judging by the trailer. Oh, how wrong they were.
  • Nice Hat: Coraline's Japanese Academy Cap.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The Other Mother's final form resembles a spidery skeleton woman with a face like a porcelain doll, hands made of sewing needles and button eyes.
  • No Name Given: We don't know the names of Coraline's friends from Michigan, the Cat, Wybie's grandmother, or the 3 ghost children.
  • Non-Human Sidekick:
    • The Other Wybie, arguably.
    • The cat fills this role as well, especially after Other!Wybie meets his sad fate.
  • Noodle Incident: Coraline's mother mentions a car accident that caused the family to move. She's also wearing a neck brace throughout the film.
  • Noodle People:
    • Coraline is as thin as a rod, but many other characters, like her father and Ms. Spink, are short and squat.
    • Mr. Bobinsky is a borderline example - he's round and rotund, but with spidery legs.
    • The Other Mother starts out looking like Coraline's mother, along with her legs. Gradually, she morphs and transforms throughout the story into a wizened, vaguely human creature with four spidery legs and arms made out of sewing needles.
  • Notable Original Music
  • Object Ceiling Cling: The candy bowl at Ms. Spink and Ms. Forcible's apartment.
  • Oh, Crap:
    • "Black is traditional."
    • When the other world starts to collapse, for the first time the cat looks genuinely terrified.
  • One-Winged Angel: Over the course of the movie the Other Mother progressively gets more monstrous. She starts as a copy of Coraline's real mother, then gets thinner, spindlier and overall wicked-looking. By the end of the movie she reveals her true form - a spindly spider-human hybrid with cracked porcelain skin, metal legs and hands with claws made of sewing needles.
  • Orphean Rescue: The final act of the film becomes this, with Coraline going into the Other World to rescue her parents and the three ghost children.
  • Parallel Porn Titles: The posters for the burlesque versions of William Shakespeare plays in the actresses' apartment: Julius Sees-Her, King Leer, etc.
  • Parents as People: Coraline's parents mean well, but they don't have time for her.
  • Parents in Distress: Coraline's parents are kidnapped by the Other Mother and she has to return to the Other World one last time and challenge the Other Mother in order to save them.
  • Perverse Puppet
  • Pop-Star Composer: Almost. They Might Be Giants did write songs for the movie, but they ended up not fitting for the most part, and almost all got cut.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: To sustain her life, the Beldam must consume all the love out of a child's soul after sewing buttons over their eyes.
  • Power Trio: Coraline, Wybie and the Cat form one.
  • Platonic Boy Girl Heroes: Coraline and Wybie in the movie version.
  • Punch Clock Villain: A lot of The Other Mother's minions like The Other Wybie and the Other Father.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "You. Aren't. My. Mother."
  • Punny Name: Wybie's real name, "Wybourne", leads to Coraline occasionally calling him "Why-were-you-born?".
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Coraline breaks a mirror when she realizes that her parents are trapped inside.
  • Rapid-Fire "No!": Coraline's father does this when Coraline accidentally shuts off the power to the house while he's working on the computer.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: The Other Mother's original form.
  • Real Is Brown: The colors of the real world are incredibly dull and jaded, which is to contrast for the other world's vibrant and cheery colors.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Several people on IMDB complained about Coraline's Jerk Ass attitude. Ever seen an upset 12-year old? Ever seen a 12-year old who's gone through a long road trip to move into a house in the middle of nowhere, gets stuck with annoying neighbors and ignored by their parents? Yeah...
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Coraline is obviously associated with blue, while the Other Mother is detailed in red and black, much like Alice and the Red Queen.
    • Funnily enough, Coraline herself embodies both onis in different mediums: British book!Coraline is more stoic, mature and cerebral while American Movie!Coraline is more belligerent and snarky.
  • Red Right Hand: But really, are you gonna look at someone's hands if their eyes are buttons?
  • Refuge in Audacity: The theater scene, the proof that Henry Selick knows children better than anyone else in Hollywood.
  • Retreaux: The entire movie, from the clothing, to the hairstyles, to the gigantic, baby-crushing CRT monitor on Coraline's dad's computer is steeped in The Nineties, which is strange, since the book is was based on came out in 2002. Overall it seems to be a Genre Throwback to Nickelodeon shows and their imitators from before Nickelodeon sucked, complete with snarky, pubescent female protagonist.
    • May cause a bit of Anachronism Stew; Coraline's mom has a flip-phone that looks more like it's from the early 2000s.
  • Rule of Three:
    • Coraline goes to the other world several times, and it is on her third trip that other mother's full intentions are revealed.
    • She also has to collect the three missing eyes of the Ghost Children and face three challenges to do so.
    • "One... two... THREEEEE!".
    • Spink and Forcible have three live dogs, and their stuffed dogs are in rows of three.
  • Scenery Gorn: The scenes of the other world disappearing.
  • Scenery Porn: Like you wouldn't believe. The garden, the mouse circus, and the theater in the other world are breathtaking.
  • Seashell Bra: The Other Forcible wears one dressed as Venus.
  • Ship Tease: The interactions between Wybie and Coraline is seen by the fans as a burgeoning romance.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To The Nightmare Before Christmas: The pumpkins in the other mother's garden look like the Mayor of Halloweentown, and the tallest of the three Ghost Children resembles Shock. The cat is the same sort of black, scrawny specimen seen in Halloweentown. A bowl that Other Mother uses resembles Jack Skellington. Similarly, when Wybie has his facemask/helmet on, he bears a strong resemblance to Barrel. There also might be one to Pixar, as one of the Shakespeare players has a baby in a backpack that looks a lot like Jack-Jack.
    • The ball that the rats were playing with was the one from Luxo Jr.
    • The movers at the beginning were the "Ranft Bros.", caricatured after Jerome Ranft and the late Joe Ranft, who worked on The Nightmare Before Christmas and several Pixar films.
    • Also, at one point the other mother cracks an egg yolk into a bowl that yields The Nightmare Before Christmas lead character Jack Skellington's image.
    • The other father's slippers look an awful lot like Monkeybone...
      • Not surprising. He has his own line of slippers as part of his cartoon show's marketing gimmick.
    • The piano in the other study has the gold word "Tadahiro" on it. Tadahiro Uesugi was a concept artist whom Henry Selick adored.
    • Probably unintentional, but two that sprung out in the movie were the father's name - Charlie Jones, aka "Chuck" Jones, and the "Tall, handsome beast" that Miss Forcible saw in Coraline's tea leaves could have referred to the cat - who's voiced by Keith David, who also provided the voice of Goliath. Then again, both may simply be an Epileptic Trees moment. On the other hand, Keith David himself is a tall, handsome beast.
    • Wybie shares the same last name of a runaway black child named Jessie Lovat in American Gods.
    • When the other world is getting destroyed, it just white with some black outlined objects. It very similar to Super Paper Mario.
    • Much of Other Father's creepy Dialogue when Other Mother isn't around seems similar to Psycho.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Quite a lot. The poster in the old ladies' apartment reads "King Leer". The boy in the uniforms store yelled "My kingdom for a horse!". Several lines from Hamlet were quoted during the theater scene. And to top it off, Oregon natives will recognize the city the titular character's family moved to as Ashland, Oregon, where the Shakespeare Festival is held annually.
    • "What a piece of work is a man; how noble in reason; how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable in action; how like an angel in apprehension; how like a god." Done awesomely. Especially since they were saying it sarcastically, though Coraline and unfamiliar viewers wouldn't know it at the time.
  • Shy Blue-Haired Girl: Averted. Coraline is not shy.
  • Sirens Are Mermaids: During The Other Spink and Forcible's song, The Other Spink describes herself as "The siren of all seven seas" while dressed as a mermaid.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: A trait of some conversations between Coraline and the cat.
  • Sore Loser: The Other Mother.
  • The Southpaw: Coraline writes with her left hand, as changelings were alleged to do.
  • The Speechless: The other Wybie.
  • Spiritual Successor: To The Nightmare Before Christmas. As well as Henry Selick's previous James and the Giant Peach adaptation. And MirrorMask.
  • Stepford Smiler: The Other Mother, and most of the denizens in her realm.
  • Stop Motion
  • Something Only They Would Say: Sort of. When Coraline and the cat first have a conversation, Coraline is initially skeptical that the cat is the same one from the real world (as opposed to a copy in the Other World). The cat quickly puts an end to the skepticism, with a casual Call Back to an earlier scene where Coraline referred to the cat as a "Wuss puss."
  • Swallow the Key: Done by the Other Mother.
  • Small, Dark, and Snarky: The cat.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Coraline asks Wybie what made him change his mind when he didn't believe her earlier, as she explained about the Other Mother, and The Cat. The Cat went to him to get help.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Coraline never finishes a single meal throughout the entire movie. When the first meal gets replaced by cake, she doesn't eat that either. And she tosses away a bag of popcorn in the Other Mouse Circus.
  • This Was His True Form: When the cat delivers a killing bite to one of the Other Bobinsky's circus mice, it turns into a rat.
  • Title Character: The movie (like the book) is named after the protagonist.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Coraline, from book to movie, but she gets better.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Movie!Coraline. Facing down an eye-mutilating witch tends to do that.
  • Totally Radical: Select pieces of Coraline's dialogue. It might come off as Narm to older viewers, since hardly any kid talks that way. The most egregious examples:
    "Cripes almighty! How are my best trolls?!" (Upon seeing a moving picture of her friends)
    "Ugh! Poo-ee!" (Upon sniffing a repugnant smell)
  • Transformation Trauma
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • One TV spot for the film shows the other mother giving Coraline the gift box with the buttons meant for her. Another TV spot had the other father being held up by the evil mantis thing and swiping at Coraline, and had the other Wybie's stitched smile. A third featured Bobinski's rat-clothes slithering around.
    • Although spoilers were to be expected when the HBO Special on Coraline aired, some of them were a bit too big. Mainly the fact that the other Wybie dies and has all that's left of him, his clothes, hung like a flag. Granted, one of the five Behind the Scenes videos hinted at the possibility of this, but no one expected what actually occurred. It kinda reduced the shock value.
    • The other mother's second form is on the back of the DVD box. The spoiler status of this could be argued though, as that's how she's described in the book from the beginning, as opposed to starting out as identical to Coraline's real mother.
  • Unfortunate Names: Wybie is short for Wyborne. Ouch.
    • His nickname "Wybie" is pronounced "why-be"... Poor kid.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: It's highly doubtful many of the viewers knew why the Ghost Children called the other mother "the beldam", and probably figured it was the name for whatever monster she was. Thank god for John Keats and The Other Wiki... (which would make a really good band name...)
    • The Fairy Ring of mushrooms around the abandoned well is a huge Chekhov's Gun to anyone who knows the appropriate folklore; to everyone else its just added scenery.
    • The stone that Spink and Forcible give Coraline? It's an adder stone.
    • Also, how many viewers recognized the speech the other Spink and Forcible were reciting during their trapeze act? It's from Hamlet. And it has especially interesting plot-correllations when you recall that when he originally spoke it in the play, Hamlet was being sarcastic.
      • Especially when you also notice that they stop right before "And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me."
      • It's just a passing gag, but how many people are going to get "My kingdom for a horse!"
      • A phrase which can be interpreted as, "Everything I have for the one thing I don't"... just a passing gag, eh?
  • Villainous Breakdown: The Other Mother's Glamour Failure happens gradually throughout the whole film, but she completely loses it when Coraline sees through her tricks and gets the cat to claw out the Other Mother's eyes, complete with a heaping helping of Hypocrisy.
    The Other Mother: "You horrible, cheating girl!"
  • Voice of the Legion: For most of his last scene, the Other Bobinsky speaks with his normal voice, but for a single, horror-filled line, he uses this trope to great effect.
  • The Watson: The movie-original character Wybourne "Wybie" Lovat, who gives a reason for Coraline to give the exposition told in the book through narration.
  • Weird Moon: As time wears on through Coraline's hunting game against the Other Mother, the moon is steadily eclipsed, and the shadow has an inner circumferential line and four holes (i.e., the shadow of a button). Coraline seems to take it as a time limit; at one moment the shadow notably (and audibly at that) grinds to a halt when the final Ghost-Child's eye/soul is won.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Some people recognized the town that Coraline's family moved to as Ashland, Oregon. The banners for the Shakespeare festival can be seen in several scenes. The studio is based in Portland.
    • Coraline's friends in the picture on her nightstand, in the otherworld, said "Gone to Oregon" didn't they?
  • The Worm That Walks: The other Bobinsky near the end of the movie.
  • Vapor Wear: April Spink, if you look closely enough.
  • Yandere: The Other Mother
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Coraline. An 11-year old brunette dyeing her hair blue.
  • You Have to Believe Me: Coraline should probably explain it to Wybie coherently; throwing shoes at him isn't going to make him believe you. In fairness to her, however, she just narrowly avoided having her eyes poked out by a demonic copy of her mother. Coherency is optional after that.

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alternative title(s): Coraline
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