image for Coraline

Short takes

Not suitable under 8; parental guidance to 13 (themes, scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Coraline
  • a review of Coraline completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 6 August 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to menacing themes and scary scenes.
Children aged 8 to 13 Parental guidance recommended due to menacing themes and scary scenes.
Children over the age of 13 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Coraline
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Menacing themes and scary scenes
Length: 100 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Coraline Jones (voice of Dakota Fanning) is an unhappy child who feels neglected by her parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) after they move to an old house in the country. Busy with deadlines and dreams, her parents have no time for her and are irritated by her questions and constant pestering.

Coraline’s neighbour Wybie (Robert Bailey Jr.) gives her an odd looking doll that he found in his grandmother’s attic. The doll looks almost exactly like Coraline and is really a spy for an evil, spider-like creature from another world. The creature uses handcrafted dolls to see into the lives of children and then lures them to her world by presenting them with all the wonderful things that they feel are missing from their own.

The portal to the alternative world is a small doorway in Coraline’s bedroom. Coraline finds the entrance and, at first, also finds herself in the middle of the life she always wished that she’d had. She has parents who talk to her and are interested in all that she does, a mother who cooks delicious meals and more pleasing versions of her neighbours.

However, the more that Coraline visits this parallel world the more she begins to see that things are not as they appear and she soon finds herself in a struggle to escape and return to her real life.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Kidnapping, separation from parents, children as victims

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Coraline kills heaps of bugs by slapping and smashing them into the walls.
  • Coraline frequently punches Wybie
  • A cat kills a mouse who turns out to be a rat spy for the Other Mother.
  • The Other Mother roughly grabs Coraline and throws her through a wall into another room.
  • Coraline is attacked by plants and flowers that try to drag her down under a bridge.
  • Coraline throws a cat at the Other Mother. The Mother and the cat fight and the cat claws the Mother’s eyes out.
  • Coraline and the ghost children sever the Other Mother’s hand in a doorway.
  • In the middle of the night Coraline goes to a deep, dark well intending to throw the key to the other world down into the abyss. The Other Mother’s severed hand has followed her and tries to take it back. It is dragging Coraline towards the well when Wybie saves her only to end up hanging over the side of the well himself. The severed hand stabs at Wybie’s hands trying to make him fall in. Coraline smashes it with a large rock and together she and Wybie throw it into the deep well.
  • Coraline kicks at the cat.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged under five, including the following:

  • When someone from the other world does something that the Other Mother does not like she “adjusts” them. She gives Wybie’s face an exaggerated grimace and completely contorts the other father’s face. The expressions look eerie and distorted and, in the suspenseful context of the scenes, could frighten younger viewers.
  • Coraline is pursued by what appears to be a motorcycle riding skeleton with three, green, glowing eyes. It later turns out to be Wybie but it is very sudden, loud and menacing.
  • The Other Mother transforms from someone who is the image of Coraline’s real mother into an angry, evil-looking creature.
  • After being locked away by her Other Mother Coraline is told by the ghosts of three children that after the other mother sewed buttons on their eyes she hid their eyes and ate up their lives. A talking cat also made reference to the fact that the other mother likes to eat children.
  • The Other Father is forced by the Other Mother to attack and kill Coraline. He attempts to do this with his large grasshopper invention, clawing and snapping and reaching out to hurt her. He succeeds in destroying a bridge and in drowning himself and the grasshopper. A terrified Coraline just manages to escape.
  • While searching for the children’s eyes Coraline enters a vast auditorium filled with countless creatures with snarling teeth and red glowing eyes. Coraline finds one of the eyes she is searching for inside a pouch. As she reaches in to grab it, a hand grabs her and two gruesome dishevelled figures burst out of the sack, holding onto Coraline and trying to get the eye back from her. Coraline gets the bats to attack and the bats attack the two creatures from the sack.
  • As the alternative world collapses, the Other Mother begins to show cracks in her skin and parts of her body become metallic, rough and spider like. She quickly spins a web and tries to trap Coraline in it. Coraline must climb for her life towards the door.
  • Coraline escapes through a tunnel towards her bedroom but must first battle the severed hand of her Other Mother.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Some of the above mentioned scenes may also disturb children in this age group.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • One of the retired vaudeville performers that live in a basement apartment under Coraline’s house repeatedly shows a lot of cleavage. Her breasts take up half her body and are bulging out of her clothes.
  • The Other versions of these same women put on a show during which one of them wears a girdle while another wears nothing but a very skimpy g-string. There appear to be a pattern of jewels over her nipples, but the rest of her breasts are completely exposed

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • There is repeated reference to the upstairs neighbour being a drunk.
  • When Coraline offers guest lemonade the guest requests that she put some gin in it.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • There is one instance of the word “crap” and a few instances of name calling, such as “selfish brat”

In a nutshell

Coraline is an animated thriller containing some alluring and creepy special effects. Because of the themes and scary scenes it is not a family film, but one that may be enjoyed by older children and anyone who likes 3D special affects.

The main messages from this movie are

  • Be careful about what you wish for because you just might get it
  • Be grateful for what you have because things could always be worse.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • friendship; resourcefulness; compassion for others.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of communication and empathy in maintaining healthy relationships.

The film also presents a reminder to parents to watch their words and the way that they speak to their children.