Short Review

Rated 4.0

A resourceful young girl (voiced by Dakota Fanning) moves with her neglectful parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) into a big, strange house in the Pacific Northwest. Therein she discovers a hidden doorway to an alternate version of her own life, which seems much better—until it seems much worse. Stop-motion animation maestro Henry Selick (Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas) directs and animates his own adaptation of the beloved Neil Gaiman novel with meticulous panache, spectacular set pieces out of Busby Berkeley hallucinations, and, OK, a vague but persistent note of detachment. That the vision—developed by Selick with Japanese illustrator Tadehiro Uesugi—is so dazzling but also so unsettling is exactly the idea. Whether it’s too much for young kids is open to debate, but there’s only one way for parents to find out.