The credits roll and we see a doll with blond hair float through a window on a starry night into a pair of clawed hands. The hands take the doll apart using a sewing kit (cutting off the button eyes, unraveling the hair and tearing the mouth open to remove the stuffing) The hands begin sewing a new doll and lifts up a doll of Coraline.
A moving van helps unload boxes into the house known as Pink Palace. At the back door, Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) walks around exploring. Picking up a stick, she uses it like a divining rod to point her next direction. She is watched by a black cat (who will be referred to as the Cat)
Reaching an old tree stump and being startled by the Cat, she asks if he knows where an old well is. Obviously not getting an answer, she moves away and gets a huge shock from an air horn. Someone on a bike, wearing a helmet with a skull painted on it and a three-turret lens drives at her. This is just a boy named Wybie (Robert Bailey Jr.) who quickly annoys Coraline by calling her Caroline (a running joke in the movie) and talking too much. He shows her she was standing on the well the whole time and moves several boards aside, showing it goes a long way down. He’s surprised that his grandma is letting her stay at Pink Palace, as most families with children were turned down for it. Wybie says the cat is sort of wild, but it clearly has affection for him. Hearing his Grandma calling, he gets on his bike and warns her that she should wear gloves next time, as the stick is poison oak.
Coraline's parents are busy working on a garden magazine catalogue to worry about Coraline and Coraline's mother (Teri Hatcher) won’t let her outside because of the fear of her trailing mud. Her father (John Hodgman), who is busy typing on his computer, tells her to listen to her mother and Coraline begins to satisfy her boredom on grabbing the knob of a VERY squeaky door and rocking back and forth until her father tells her to go and count all the doors and windows, note everything blue and just let him work.
Wybie visits her and gives her a doll (the same one from the beginning) because it looks like her.
We watch a funny montage as Coraline attempts to press down the carpet and only opens a door. She notes the boiler and presses a light switch, which actually turns off the power and makes her dad freak out as she looks at the note posted over it "Do not press" before booking it out of there. She notes that she has run out of doors as she finds a picture of a "boring boy in a Painfully boring picture”. She looks around and sees the look-alike doll behind a box. Moving the box, she finds a very small door that seems to have been painted over. She calls to her mother to show her where the door goes and the mother finally relents after Coraline whimpers (very cute).
The mother gets a black key with a button at the top and tears through the paint and opens the door to show..."Bricks?" Coraline is visibly disappointed, but her mother tells her that it was bricked up when the house was rented out. The mother also tells Coraline to zip it so she can get back to work.
Coraline complains about dinner, which is an odd mix of vegetables, green mush and such, made by her father. Her mother reminds her that her father cooks, she (the mother) cleans and Coraline stays out of the way.
Coraline is woken by a squeaking sound and sees a tiny white mouse under the bed. She follows it to the tiny door and opens it, only to find that a tunnel is there instead and at the end is another door. Coraline, ever being an explorer, moves inside.
At the other side is the same room she just left, but better. The paint job is more colorful, rather than the drab white room she left behind. She smells something cooking and moves into the kitchen. She looks at her mother, who’s cooking. The mother turns and reveals she has black buttons for eyes. She laughs when Coraline mentions that her mother doesn't have buttons and says she's Coraline's OTHER mother (O.Mother for now, also voiced by Teri Hatcher) She sends Coraline to get her Other father (John Hodgman again), who also has black buttons for eyes and is much more colorful in dress. He wears a red smoking jacket, slippers and he has a bit more style. His piano places gloves on his hands controlled by wires and have him play a lively tune about Coraline, explaining how much she means to the other parents.
The Otherworlds food is incredible and Coraline has lots of fun, saying she never knew she had another mother. The O.Mother says everyone does and says that after dinner they should have a game of hide and seek in the rain. Coraline mentions that it would get mud everywhere, but the other parents laugh it off, saying they love mud. Mud baths, mud facials, mud pies. Mud would clear up the rash from the poison oak Coraline had. Coraline mentions it's not raining and lightening flashes and the rain begins to pour. Coraline thanks them, but says she has to go to bed. The O.mother takes her upstairs to her room and wipes some mud on her hand for the poison oak rash.
It's even better than her own room. The toys talk to her, its bright and the picture of her friends say hello to her. The O.mother says goodnight and Coraline wakes up the next morning in her own room. She looks disappointed, but sees the poison oak rash is gone.
Coraline tries to tell her parents about the Otherworld, but they think she’s making up stories. When she mentions about the rash, her father asks her to help because he has a terrible case of writer’s rash. On his a... "Ahem!" says the mother and he quiets up. Coraline is sent to visit two of the neighbors, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible (Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French) so she stays out of the parent’s hair. They were apparently actors in their time and a little eccentric now.
Coraline goes outside only to trip over a pile of envelopes, which hold a foul smelling aroma. They all are labeled for Mr.Bobinsky (We'll call him Mr. B, voice by Ian McShane) Coraline takes them to his flat, where she attempts to enter, but Mr.B (who is a giant blue Russian who eats beets and is extremely acrobatic, as he does handstands on the balcony) doesn't let her enter. He explains that he is training a mouse circus, but the mice aren't ready so he's trying to deal with their inability to play the music he wrote for them by giving them stronger cheese (hence the packages) As Coraline walks away, Mr. tells her mice have a message for her "Do not go through little door."
Coraline visits Miss Spink and Forcible, who obviously have not gotten over their acting days, still hanging up posters from various movies with them as the actresses. They also have three Scottie dogs which constantly bark and they have shelves of their previous dogs dressed up in wings and robes (apparently they couldn't part with them, so they had them stuffed) Miss Spink reads Coraline's fortune in tea leaves and warns her she’s in danger, as we can see a gnarled hand. Miss Forcible insists it’s a giraffe, as from her angle it looks just like that.
Outside, Coraline meets Wybie, who’s spying on her with that three turret lens, but when she catches him, he insists he was searching for banana slugs (which is what the helmet is for anyway) He says that he's never been inside Pink Palace because his Grandmas twin sister disappeared and they thought she was stolen away. The Cat looks at the Coraline doll on the chair in her room.
That night Coraline goes through the door after leaving out some cheese to bait the mouse that was in the tunnel before and she follows him again. The O.mother thanks her for the cheddar (which she’s using for cooking) and sends her into the garden to get the father. The garden is full of fluorescent flowers and soon Coraline is being tickled by snapdragons. The O. father sweeps her up on the back of his tractor (a gigantic praying mantis), which is spewing out seeds and grows plants in seconds. Using a propeller on the tractor, he flies them overhead and shows Coraline that the garden is shaped like her face.” You mom thought you'd like it! She knows you like the back of her hand." The father says.
After dinner, the Other Wybie shows up, however he is very silent and seems to only smile. The O.mother says she made him that way because she thought Coraline would like it. The two go to Mr.’s flat, where there is foot pedal controlled cotton candy cannons and popcorn and they move into the tiny bigtop, where the mice do an amazing performance, spelling out Coraline's name with their tails and balancing on a ball as it rolls down a spiral tower. The Other Mr. circus ringleader thanks them for the applause and Coraline goes to sleep once more, the O.mother kissing her goodnight.
Coraline wakes in her room once more. She goes to the tiny door, but it's locked.
She is taken out by her mother as they drop her father at the train station so he can take the magazine to the editor. The mother takes Coraline shopping. As Coraline skates around on a small stepladder and holds out a pair of multicolor gloves to her mother, her mother tells her to put them back. Coraline begs her, but she doesn't listen. The car ride home is awkward as Coraline shuns her mother. The mother says she locked the door because she found rat crap inside (her exact words).
At home, upon seeing the near to empty fridge, the mother asks if Coraline wants to come and get groceries, Coraline says no. The mother sadly leaves. Coraline grabs the key from above the door and unlocks the Otherworld passage. Upon arriving, she finds the other parents are asleep, but they're left her cupcakes and all sorts of baked goods and told her Miss Spink and Forcible have a surprise for her.
As Coraline moves outside, she sees the Cat (voiced by Keith David) who is from the real world and explains that the other mother tries to keep him out, but she can’t, even though she hates cats. Coraline defends the O.mother, saying she's amazing. The Cat tells Coraline even if Coraline thinks this world is a dream come true, she’s wrong. He senses something and runs off.
At the two actresses flat, Coraline enters to find that Other Wybie is there and the other spectators are all Scottie dogs, and the whole flat is a giant theater. As they watch the show, Other Miss Spink and Miss Forcible appear, fat and old as ever and dressed as a mermaid and Aphrodite from "the Birth of Venus" respectively. As they sing, each trying to upstage the other, calling each other names like "Big bottomed sea witch" and "Banshee." Finally the real show starts. A small bucket is pushed on stage and the two actresses open their bodies, revealing the younger versions of themselves. Swinging overhead on trapezes and reciting Shakespeare, they include Coraline into the act, flipping her overhead as they swing around, finally leaving her hanging above as the two pile up in the bucket, catching Coraline as she falls, to much applause and barking.
Coraline s so excited as she goes inside, she doesn't notice Other Wybie has a sad look on his face. The O.mother makes a motion to smile as she closes the door. The O.mother asks if Coraline likes it in this world and says she can stay forever if she did one tiny thing. She opens a box that contains a needle and black thread and two buttons, but offers different colors. Coraline refuses. The Other father says the needle is so sharp it won't hurt a bit (receiving a kick under the table from the O.mother) Coraline says she wants to sleep on it. Once she’s in her room, she crams all the toys into the bin, puts away the picture of her friends, who now have button eyes and curls up under the blankets, trying to go to sleep.
The next morning, Coraline wakes up.... only to find she's still in the Otherworld. She goes downstairs, where the Godfather is playing piano. He looks slightly disheveled and less happy than before. He explains that the other mother is angry with O.Wybie because he pulled a long face before the piano hands clamp over his mouth and turn him away from Coraline. Coraline runs outside, starting to walk away to find a way out, is joined by the cat. He explains that the other mother was watching her through that doll she was given and saw what she enjoyed and what she hated in her world, enticing her to this one more. When asked why she wanted her, the Cat replies possibly to love something that isn't herself, or perhaps she's hungry. The only find themselves back at the same house and the Cat attacks a mouse with a trumpet, killing it. When asked why he did it, the mouse transforms into a huge rat. The Cat says that it was sounding an alarm before moving off.
Coraline tries to sneak into the door, but is blocked by a beetle shaped like a dresser. The O.mother reveals herself, acting sweet as she offered Coraline candy,” coco beetles" which are actually live wriggling beetles, which she bites into. When Coraline demands she be set free, the O.mother asks tells her to treat her mother with respect. Coraline angrily yells "You aren't my mother." to which the O.mother gives her to the count of three to apologize to.” One." she says, suddenly growing taller and thinner. She begins not even resembling the mother as she angrily shouts "THREE!" and grabs Coraline by the nose, throwing her through the mirror like it was made of water. There’s a dark room inside. The Other Mother agrees to let her out when she learns to be a loving daughter.
Coraline finds it’s useless to escape and is warned by ghostly voices that the "Beldam"(that what I'm going to refer to the Other mother as) might hear. She moves the sheet aside on the bed and finds three ghostly children with buttons for eyes. Two girls and one boy. They explain that they were given much by the Beldam, but they wanted more, so in their greed, they let her sew the buttons into their eyes, eventually she took their lives and trapped their souls inside her realm. They ask her to help them if she ever escapes. She agrees just as a gloved hand clamps over her mouth and pulls her through the mirror.
She fights the attacker, only to find it's Other Wybie. His mouth has been stitched into a big smile, which Coraline releases him from. He leads her to the door and pushes the drawer over and we hear the Beldam coming. Coraline begs him to come with her, but he refuses, taking off his glove and blowing on his hand, revealing dust. He’s just a creation by the Beldam. He pushes her inside and shuts it as she runs, bursting into the living room.
Coraline is happy to be home and she begins to look for her parents. Her father isn't in his study, her mom isn't in the kitchen, but groceries are. Only...when Coraline pours them out, there are flies covering them and it’s seemed to turn rancid. When a knock is heard at the door, she runs, but its just Wybie, who explains that his grandma needs the doll, since it belonged to her sister. Coraline begins searching for it with him, explaining about the Otherworld, the ghosts and such. Wybie calls her crazy (which leads to a funny scene of her throwing shoes at him) Coraline spots her parent’s car and runs to see them, but it's empty and her moms cell phone is on the seat. Her father doesn't pick up his cell phone either.
She visits Miss Spink and Forcible and they give her a small triangular green stone with a hole in the center, explaining it could help, as it's good for lost things.
We see Coraline waiting for her parents and finally making pillows look like her parents, cuddling up next to them and kissing them goodnight before crying herself to sleep (this made me cry a bit).
She awakes to the Cat batting her face and she asks if he knows where her parents are. He nods.
In the mirror, shivering and covered in snow, her mother and father stand. As mist begins to close around the two, her mother writes, "Help us" before the mist hides them from view. Coraline slams her fists into the mirror, shattering it, then goes to her parents room, finding a two faced doll, one side her father, the other her mother, that’s how the Beldam got them.
Coraline gathers up tools and moves down the tunnel, the cat close by. He tells her to challenge the Beldam, since she loves these games. There's no guarantee she'll play fair, but it's the best chance she's got. At the end of the tunnel, Coraline's mother calls to her. Coraline rushes into her arms, hugging her.” Why did you run away from me Coraline?" It's just an illusion by the Beldam as she takes the black key and, after locking the door, swallows it. She sends the Other Father, now looking like a squat, grotesque pumpkin creature out into the garden and calls Coraline for breakfast. Coraline challenges the Beldam. She says if she loses in finding her parents and the eyes of the children, she’ll be the Beldams little girl, let her sew the buttons into her eyes and do what she wants. If the Beldam loses, she lets everyone, Coraline, the children and Coraline's parents go. She agrees and Coraline asks for a hint. The Beldam simply taps the side of her button eyes. Coraline turns to her, only to find her gone.
Coraline's search begins in the garden, where she nearly loses the stone as several hummingbirds try to take it as snapdragons bite at her. She is almost snared by plant tendrils, but uses weed clippers to escape. Looking through the stone, she sees everything else muted in color and sees a glow. The glow is the least of her worries, as the O.Father, controlled by the wire gloves is forced to use the tractor to attack her. He says he's sorry, but finally wrenches free and breaks the top of the throttle off, revealing a small marble. As the tractor tries to cross the bridge, the O.father throws the marble to Coraline and the bridge breaks, sinking him and the tractor into the water and suddenly everything in the garden turns into stone. The first child congratulates her on her capture of the soul.
Coraline makes her way into Other Miss Spink and Miss Forcible's room and finds a flashlight on the floor. Turning it up, she sees several Scottie dog faced bats. She turns the light off and they settle down. On the stage is a huge candy wrapper. Looking through the stone, she sees two clasped hands around the marble. Prying them apart, she grabs the marble, then Other Miss. Spink and Forcible clamp their hands together on her wrist, now melded together, the two call her a thief and demand the marble. Coraline shines the light at the dogbats, getting them agitated before hurling the flashlight at them. The dogbats swoop down and Coraline ducks just as the hit Miss Sink and Forcible, who release the marble before they and the dogbats turn to stone and the theater begins turning to stone.
Coraline goes to Mr.B's flat next only to find Other Wybies clothes hanging overhead. She angrily calls to the Beldam she's not scared. Moving inside, a floppy limbed Mr.B greets her. His face isn't showing and he explains that even if she wins, she’ll go home and be bored. In this world she could have anything she wanted. She said she just wanted the old world because he was just a copy made by the Beldam.” Not even that anymore" Mr.B says as she grabs his hat, from where the glow is coming from. Mr.B falls apart, revealing he's made of thousands of rats, one rolling away with the marble. Coraline chases him, only to have several rats aim the cotton candy cannons at her as she tries to dodge. As the rat moves through a doggy door, she hurls the stone at him.... and misses, with him leaping over it. Coraline tries to catch up, but the rat’s tails trip her and she goes through the door, falling unconscious.
Waking up later, with the moon being eclipsed by a button (meaning the game is almost over) and the rat nowhere in sight, she cries as she realizes that she failed everyone. The Cat brings the rats head with the marble in it's teeth to Coraline and she thanks him, realizing she still needs to save her parents. The Otherworld begins to lose all color and Coraline coaxes the Cat to jump into her bag and she runs into the house, slamming the door behind her.
Moving indoors, with the paint peeling behind her, she enters the much darker looking living room, which has a fireplace, spiderweb like ornaments (slightly neon like Oogie boogies lair in "Nbc") and paintings. The Beldam now has no resemblance to Coraline's mother. Her skin is wrinkled looking, her arms and hands look like the claws from the beginning of the film and she has two extra backlegs almost like a spider and her front legs are very long and thin. She notes that Coraline brought vermin with her (meaning the cat) but Coraline disagrees, saying she brought a friend. She shows the three souls to the Beldam, who tries to snag them, but Coraline refuses, since the game isn't over. The Beldam tells Coraline to say where her parents are, but she has to do it without the stone. The Beldam shows it to Coraline before burning it in the fire. Coraline says that they're behind the door. The Beldam smiles and she moves to cough up the key, moving the beetle dresser out of the way.
The Cat motions to a snow globe of the Detroit zoo, which Coraline sees contains her parents. The Beldam opens the door, showing nothing and gloating that Coraline must stay with her forever. Coraline hurls the Cat into the Beldams face, who, after he scratches and bites her, with Coraline putting her parents in her pocket, slashes her button eyes off as she screams. The floor begins to fall apart as the Cat makes a break through the tiny door and Coraline falls into a giant spiderweb. The Beldam, now blind, tries to search for her, but only succeeds when Coraline gets stuck and pulls free, the vibrations in the web reaching her and she climbs after Coraline. Coraline struggles to close the door as the Beldams claws reach through. The ghost children’s hands reach out and slam the door, cutting the Beldams hand off at the wrist and locking it with the black key. Coraline runs with the other mother screams that she'll die without Coraline following her. She closes the small door and locks it and we hear no more of the Beldams voice.
Coraline's parents come home, but seem to remember none of the past events, simply thinking that Coraline hurt her knee, but they begin spending more time with her as the magazine is finished. That evening Coraline says she wants everyone to come to a party, even Mr.B."He's not drunk mom, he’s just eccentric.” she says. When her mother kisses her goodnight, she puts a small box, which contains the multicolored gloves on Coraline's bed.
The Cat, visibly upset with Coraline, comes to her window, but she explains it was all she could think of and he calms down, purring. She goes to sleep and the ghost children speak to her, explaining that while they are free, the Beldam is trying to find a way through. Coraline must get rid of the key so there's no way back to the Otherworld.
As Coraline takes the key around her neck outside, we see the tiny door and the clawed severed hand of the other mother get through. It follows Coraline silently like a spider, crawling until Coraline reaches the well. As she prepares to take off the key, the hand leaps and begins dragging the key around Coraline's neck back to the house, strangling Coraline in the process. We hear a familiar air horn and Wybie, in full helmet and on his bike, swats the hand, but it quickly trips him up, leaving him dangling from the hole over the well. It attempts to stab his hand, but Coraline nets it with her shawl before it rips through. As it prepares to pounce again, Wybie smashes it with a rock, shattering it. The two gather up the pieces of the hand and wrap it in the shawl with the rock and tie up the top with the string and the key before dropping it down the well and boarding it up. Wybie explains that he began to believe Coraline when he saw the picture. He shows a picture of his Grandma and her twin sister and it's the smaller of the two ghost girls from before. Wybie wonders what he'll tell his Grandma and Coraline says she'll help him. She thanks him for being a stalker and he says it wasn't his idea, looking at the Cat, who seems to smile and Coraline smiles back.
At the end, we see Coraline bringing all the people living in pink palace lemonade as they help work on the garden. Mr.B says the mice named Coraline as their savior and will give her a special performance when they're ready. Wybies grandmother is greeted by Coraline as we are treated to how the beautiful garden is coming along. We finally see the sign of Pink Palace and the Cat stretches on top of it before moving off and vanishing from sight.
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