Picks and Pans Review: Coraline

updated 02/16/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/16/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

Voices by Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Ian McShane PG |

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Here's a splendid cautionary tale for any child who has ever, mid-tantrum, wailed, "I'll just go find my real parents!" In this vivid gothic drama, Coraline (Fanning), 11, discovers a door leading to a seemingly idyllic parallel world where everyone, including attentive versions of her normally preoccupied mom (Hatcher) and dad, sports gleaming buttons for eyes. But Coraline soon learns there's no real life behind those button orbs. Director Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) deftly uses stop-motion animation in bringing Neil Gaiman's absorbing book to the screen. Note: Coraline is too long (two hours) and too scary for kids younger than 8.

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