Matchup of the Day: Fantastic Mr. Fox vs. Coraline
Today we have a couple stop-motion movies where children feel neglected by their parents – Fantastic Mr. Fox vs. Coraline
In Fantastic Mr. Fox, the title character is a fox who likes to show off to the other animals, particularly through his thievery skills. His wife, Felicity, wants him to settle down and pursue a lower-risk profession after a close call at the beginning of the film. So, he takes up writing for the local gazette. Ash, Fox’s son, is short and awkward, feeling overshadowed by his father’s athletic prowess. Fox doesn’t take him seriously, referring to him as “different”, which makes him grumpy. Ash becomes jealous when his cousin, Kristofferson, who is tall and graceful, comes to stay with his family. Especially when Fox pays more attention to him.
In Coraline, the title character is young girl who moves with her parents to a dreary old apartment building. Coraline, too, is grumpy, because they write about plants for a gardening catalogue and are often too busy to give her the attention she wants. When exploring the apartment she finds a magical door that leads to an alternate version of her world where everything is brighter and more fantastical. There she meets her Other Mother and Other Father. They lavish her with attention and give her everything she desires. The most noticeable difference between her real parents and the Other Parents, though, is that the Others have buttons for eyes.
Fox decides to move the family from their dingy hole in the ground to a tree. His neighbors, Boggis, Bunce and Bean, are “three of the meanest, nastiest, ugliest farmers” in the area according to Fox’s attorney. This does not deter Fox from scheming to rob each of them of their chickens, ducks and apple cider, however. Enlisting the help of Kristofferson and his opossum friend, Fox sets out to loot each of the farms. The plan goes well at first until Boggis, Bunce and Bean catch on and retaliate in full force. All the animals in the valley become displaced as the vengeful trio tear apart the landscape. Fox ends up getting his tail shot off, which Bean wears as a tie.
Coraline starts to believe that her life with the Other Parents is preferable to her real life. That is, until the Other Mother tells her that the only way to stay with them is by replacing her eyes with buttons as well. Coraline wants nothing to do with this and demands to leave. The Other Mother locks Coraline in a room where she meets the spirits of other children that were captured. She manages to escape to her real home, but her parents are missing. They have been imprisoned by the Other Mother.
Ash gets the idea to recover his father’s tail in order to prove himself, talking Kristofferson into coming along. The plan goes south when Kristofferson is captured by Bean’s wife. Fox realizes that all his showing off is what caused the whole mess. He recognizes that everyone has unique abilities are special in their own way. The animals band together and rescue Kristofferson, with Ash finally proving his athletic ability.
Coraline succeeds in rescuing her parents from the Other Mother. I should add that there is an awkward local boy, Wyborn, who Coraline doesn’t take seriously. At the film’s climax, he helps Coraline defeat the Other Mother. So, one could say that Coraline is like a combination of Mr. Fox and Ash. She neglects to recognize Wyborn’s usefulness as an individual, as does Fox fail to see the same in in his son. Coraline is grumpy like Ash because they both feel neglected by their parents. The difference for Coraline is that she doesn’t appreciate her parents until they go missing. Ash just wants to be appreciated by Fox.
If there’s a moral that both films share, it must be that we should learn to appreciate what we have than always going for the flashy alternative.