The risk is unmistakable. The world of animation gets more crowded by the day, with feature films, DVDs, TV series and video games competing for consumers' attention. And "Coraline" isn't your typical talking-animal romp or potpourri of pop culture references.
Rather, it's a spooky, through-the-looking-glass tale of a lonely tweener girl who moves to Ashland and steps into a mirror world where sinister impostors stand in for her parents.
And did we mention that there's also a burlesque, Benny Hill-style interlude that mixes Shakespeare, trapezes and the doffing of clothes -- all set to a song written by "Coraline" director Henry Selick?
By choosing unconventional source material, as well as the decades-old stop-motion technique over the computer-generated animation familiar from such hits as the "Shrek" franchise and "The Incredibles," Laika is breaking with nearly all the conventions that helped make animated movies one of the surest bets in Hollywood.