Thanks to everyone who posted comments or emailed me after last week’s review of “Coraline.” I always love getting feedback… and I REALLY love generating heated debate, and I have to be honest—I NEVER thought my criticism of “Coraline” would stir up as much controversy as it did! I’ll also say… I was SHOCKED that “Coraline” made as much money as it did (as of its Friday opening, it’s made an impressive $19,000,000 worldwide). The film clearly struck a chord with lots of people that it just DIDN’T with me.
Having said that, I stand by the review: I just don’t think it’s that great of a movie. And I also think it’s the kind of “non-mainstream” movie that compels people to overlook its faults and adore its strengths. I’m all for giving a movie “extra credit” for noble intentions, but noble intentions don’t outweigh successful execution. And while “Coraline” strives hard to be different… and even succeeds to a certain extent… I still think its story is remarkably flawed (for all the reasons I mentioned in the review, which I won’t go into here). And there is usually NOTHING more important than story. A movie can have dazzling visuals, mind-blowing set pieces, and complex characters… but if the story isn’t working, the rest is almost irrelevant. This has been true all the way back to Aristotle’s Poetics, and it’s true now… and, for me, “Coraline” is a perfect example of a piece that may have great spectacle, interesting characters, and compelling themes (personally, I don’t think it does, but that’s not the point)… yet it lacks the solid story to support it all.
And J. Bennett—you’re right… I did like “Paul Blart.” I certainly don’t think it’s a cinematic masterpiece… and it’s as cookie-cutter as movies come… but it WORKED. It played notes we’ve all seen a billion times, but it played them well… and sometimes [often times, even] painting by numbers successfully is more engaging and enjoyable than failing at something intending to be different. Like I said, I support noble intentions… but the nobility of intent doesn’t outweigh execution. And what “Paul Blart” may have lacked in originality, it made up for in sheer methodology. It may not have been fine art, but there IS an art to following storytelling “rules” faithfully enough to make a genuine, widespread hit… and I’m not sure that particular “art” is any less impressive or commendable than making something small, alternative, or esoteric.
Anyway, thanks again for all your notes and comments… and KEEP ‘EM COMING (I also have thick skin and love a good debate)!
Coming up this week and beyond: a review of “The International”… the kick-off of Script Notes’ first-ever writing contest… Pitch Workshop submissions… and reader questions from Russell, E. Daniels, Jessica, Dasha, and more!