Coraline

  • Directors: Henry Selick
  • Producers: Claire Jennings
  • Writers: Henry Selick, Neil Gaiman
  • Genres: Animation, Adventure, Family, Fantasy
  • Actors: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Keith David, Robert Bailey Jr, John Hodgman, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Ian McShane

Coraline Jones moves into the Pink Palace Apartments in Ashland, Oregon with her loving but work-consumed parents. While exploring the nearby forest, Coraline encounters a stray black cat and an odd boy who tends it named Wybie Lovat. She also befriends long-retired actresses Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, and an acrobat named Mr. Bobinsky.

While exploring her apartment complex, Coraline finds a small door closed by bricks. Awakened that night by a button-eyed “jumping mouse”, she follows it to discover a passage extending beyond the miniature door, which leads her to an alternate version of the house grounds called the “Other World”. Upon arrival therein, Coraline meets button-eyed doppelg√ɬ§ngers of her mother and father, who claim to be her “Other” parents. These figures guide her to a more luxurious and attractive version of the house and its surroundings. The Other Mother and Father celebrate her presence with delicious food, a beautiful, enchanted garden, and the affection Coraline feels she is missing in her own world.

Coraline continues visiting the Other World, where she is entertained by the “Other” versions of Wybie and the neighbors. The black cat, who can speak when in the Other World, informs Coraline that the Other Mother and her world are a trap set to entice children who believe themselves neglected. Coraline refuses to believe this until the Other Mother offers for her to stay in the Other World if she will sew buttons over her eyes. Coraline demands to return to her real parents, angering the Other Mother into assuming a tall, wretched form and trapping her in a small room behind a mirror as punishment. There she finds three ghost children who previously fell into the hands of the Other Mother and lost their eyes and souls to her.

Though her parents are safe (with no memory of the incident) and the ghost children have moved on to the afterlife, Coraline’s task is not done. Coraline realizes that the Other Mother will try to enter her world to reclaim her, and goes to drop the only key to the door connecting their worlds down a well on the premises. The Other Mother’s severed hand enters Coraline’s world and attempts to retrieve the key, but it is destroyed by Coraline and Wybie and dropped down the well with the key. Having rid the world of the Other Mother, Coraline has a gardening party with her parents and neighbors.

Spy Kids

  • Directors: Robert Rodriguez
  • Producers: Elizabeth Avellan, Robert Rodriguez
  • Writers: Robert Rodriguez
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Sci-Fi
  • Actors: Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alan Cumming, Teri Hatcher, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, with Robert Patrick, and Tony Shalhoub, Alexa Vega, as Carmen, Daryl Sabara, as Juni, George Clooney

Carmen and Juni Cortez live with what they think are boring parents. One night, Carmen asks her mother Ingrid to tell her a story, and with Juni listening, Ingrid recounts the tale of two spies, who though they are on opposing sides and originally supposed to kill each other, end up falling in love and getting married instead. What Carmen and Juni don’t know is that this is the true story of their parents Gregorio and Ingrid. The newly married couple makes a big decision. They retire from the OSS (Official Strategic Service), the spy organization they were working for, to raise their family.

Ten years later, the family is facing some problems. Carmen enjoys tormenting her younger brother, who does not have many friends. In fact, the only enjoyment in his life comes from watching “Floop’s Fooglies”, a children’s TV show starring a man named Fegan Floop, his sidekick Alexander Minion, and strange, humanoid Fooglies that speak in gibberish. Ingrid longs to return to spy work, while Gregorio just wants everyone to be happy.

Trouble begins when Gregorio is called in on a mission to locate some OSS Agents that have gone missing. The latest disappearance was that of Donnagon Giggles, an old fellow agent. The next morning, as Juni watches Floop’s show, the strange host introduces a new Fooglie character- “Donnamight.” Gregorio and Ingrid become suspicious when they realize that the strange character resembles Donnagon. The camera reveals that Floop is actually working for a villain named Mr. Lisp, and was paid quite a lot of money to develop an army to take over the world. Lisp is unhappy with the Fooglies, and is prepared to cut all funding for the project. Floop and Minion quickly present their latest idea – the Spy Kids, child-sized robots that have the athletic prowess and intelligence of the world’s best spies. Unfortunately, the robots are currently brainless- but Floop does have a plan…

Floop realizes that the Third Brain has already been copied and ingrained into every Spy Kid’s head, and runs off to try to reverse the process before they can leave the castle. The Cortez’s team up in the main room and prepare to fight Lisp, Gradenko (with burnt hair from the last encounter with Juni and Carmen), and even Minion, who now has four heads and three hands on each arm. Minion summons the Spy Kids, and the family prepares to fight, even Machete, who appears at the last minute to provide support. Floop is suddenly struck with inspiration thanks to Juni’s words. The Spy Kids are programmed to do only evil deeds… so he changes their understanding of right and wrong. The newly happy robots play by tossing Minion, Lisp, and unfortunately Gradenko into the air, and, after watching, the whole family returns home. In the end, Floop uses the Carmen and Juni robots on his show, which prove to be just what it needs, and the chief of the OSS, Devlin (George Clooney in an obvious cameo), summons Carmen and Juni to another mission. The final quote of the story is “Spywork, that’s easy. Keeping a family together, that’s difficult. And that’s the mission worth fighting for.”