No, I didn't go see this with my 4 year-old son, and after seeing it I would definitely not take him to it. This film is a dark, creepy, suspenseful romp through Henry Selick's twisted mind; in no way was it appropriate for small children, despite the PG rating. That being said, I loved it. It was an extremely gratifying experience; a feast for the eyes, if you will. This is one of the guys who brought us The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is a stop-motion classic, but I think he outdid himself here.
The story centers around a little girl named, you guessed it, Coraline, not Caroline. She's a lonely, quirky little girl with somewhat of a bad attitude. Sure, she only wants more attention from her parents, but she isn't very understanding when if comes to their work, or anything else for that matter. They have just moved into an apartment which appeared to be sectioned off from an old mansion. Their neighbors are an interesting lot, consisting of an old gymnast/magician with ridiculous flexibility, two overweight, elderly drama queens, and a weird little boy, about Coraline's age, named Wybie who lives in a house nearby. Wybie's grandmother owns the place, however, she's forbidden him from entering the mansion, and is pretty mysterious as to her reasons why. The tale that unfolds during the next 100 minutes contains an alternate universe, trapped ghost children, a mouse circus, and many other crazy, inventive scenarios that have earned it legitimate comparisons to the classic children's tale, Alice in Wonderland.
One of the most important aspects of an animated movie is the visual effects and Coraline doesn't disappoint. The stop-motion animation is fabulously executed, some of the best I've seen, and I have never seen 3-D like this before. Usually 3-D leaves me feeling less than impressed, even downright nauseous, but Coraline is crisp and beautiful, undoubtedly due in part to the Rave's new Texas Instruments projectors. I never felt that the 3-D was gimmicky or overdone; it simply enhanced the movie going experience as it was meant to do, and was easily worth the extra two bucks per ticket.
I feel very comfortable recommending Coraline to anyone who loves animated movies or the zany, Tim Burton style films with a well balanced mix of humor and horror. However, for the full affect I strongly encourage you to watch it in digital 3-D. Unfortunately, it is probably late in its theatrical run, so hurry! If I had to make a guess right now, I'd agree with Jack Black and say that the smart money is always on Pixar, who is releasing Up this year, but I think Coraline will be in the running come Oscar season.