Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Coraline: Book vs Movie

The book wins, of course.

Okay, I guess it's not as simple for most people other than myself, so I will attempt to explain why. 

One reason I found the book so compelling was because it was a tale of a young girl, Coraline, taking on the world (or should I say the "Other" world) almost singlehandedly albeit a cat. In order to save her parents from the grasp of her Other Mother, Coraline has to win a finding-things game and outwit her Other Mother, who, we are told, is sometimes a cheat. Coraline is presented as witty, funny, and ruthless... she throws a cat at her Other Mother, for heaven's sake!

However, in the movie, the director must have thought that a plot involving a strong-willed, independent girl wouldn't sell. Meet: Wybie Lovat, the pester-some neighbor boy who might add a small amount of comic relief, but nonetheless saves Coraline when suddenly this movie-version can't seem to save herself.  Director Selick, do you not think it possible for a young girl to get by on her own, without help of a young man? 

Despite the addition of Wylie to the film, I found it otherwise a decent film. The pacing did seem off, and if the screenplay had stuck more closely to the book, I think it would have felt more even. I found the addition of some details pertaining to minor characters amusing, and aesthetically, I enjoyed the movie in 3-D. 

But overall, I'd have to say that the book was just a more pleasing experience for me. Imagining Gaiman's world was better than seeing it on screen, even in an "eye-popping 3-D." I found myself more attached to the characters in the book than in the movie, and appreciated Coraline's imagination and her mind in the book--for example, the brilliant tea party she has in the end of the book that wasn't included in the movie. 

So, read the book. And if you can't spare an hour out of your day (really, it's short and shouldn't take much longer than that) then I suppose you can just cut straight to the movie--just remember, out there on bookshelves and in the hands of young adults, Coraline herself is saving the day, and not just relying on some boy to do it for her.


Adam Morgan said...

I agree with almost everything you said. Wybie was annoying, though I don't think it was Selick's intent to rob Coraline of her independence. But he should've reconsidered the last twenty minutes or so, for sure.

Jamie Winger said...

I liked Other Wybie more than Wybie. That creepy smile and blank stare still give me the creeps. I agree that he was annoying though. And there would have been more of a payoff if we had to see Coraline triumph on her own. Oh Hollywood, you always have to add some boy-girl tension, don't you!