Scott Marks 7 a.m., Sept. 18
A piece of 3-D stop-motion animation about a little girl with blue hair and ski-jump nose (everyone hears her name as Caroline, and her last name of Jones will only encourage confusion in anyone who remembers the Morticia of TV’s Addams Family, Carolyn Jones), who, unhappy with her preoccupied parents, is lured into a parallel universe of idealized replicas — a sort of Stepford Mom and Stepford Dad — but for their button eyes. Her price to pay for permanent residence in this universe is to trade her own eyes for buttons: “Soon you’ll see things our way.” (Distant echoes of Invaders from Mars and Invasion of the Body Snatchers: the lobotomy bugaboo.) Director Henry Selick, heretofore of The Nightmare before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach, pays a lot of attention to landscape and surface, such that the film cultivates an aggressive tactility. But the dream world opens the door also to a self-indulgent succession of oddities and bizarreries — here a mouse circus, there an audience of Scotties — without much narrative drive. And it’s plainly a higher priority to be dark and edgy and Tim Burton-y than to be kid-friendly. The catered-to adult is still apt to feel something extra was needed, and the distracting 3-D neither provided it nor disguised it. With the voices of Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, John Hodgman, Ian McShane, Keith David. 2009.
- Rated PG | 1 hour, 40 minutes
- Official website