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Ernest & Célestine - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
cinema_holic
cinema_holic
Ernest & Célestine
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Directing: B
Acting: B
Writing: B-
Cinematography: B+
Editing: B+
Animation: B



It's easy to wonder what drugs were being used by the makers of Ernest & Célestine. There are two versions being offered in local theatres -- original French with subtitles, or with the dialogue over-dubbed with American actors -- but neither will have any effect on the strangeness of the story. Presumably children will enjoy it, and not find anything bizarre about a mouse society based on stolen bear teeth (??), although even kids of a certain age, used to the vibrant and intricate CGI details of Pixar films, may find the animation style dated.

This was one of the Oscar-nominated animated feature films, and it certainly has its charms. It's only once the story gets going that you might find yourself saying, "Whaaat?" The characters themselves are fun: Célestine (Mackenzie Foy) is a little mouse who refuses to believe mice can't be friends with "big bad bears." These "big bad bears," incidentally, are the above-ground creatures from whom the nice steal teeth -- particularly bear cub teeth, so they are small enough to fit into mouse mouths, once the mice grow older and lose teeth. The mice become useless and unintelligible when speaking when they lose a tooth, you see. Never mind that even a bear cub would have a mouth larger than a mouse's by orders of magnitude. Cartoons are not concerned with realistic matters of scale. Anyway, Célestine is an dental intern who does not gather nearly enough teeth when out searching for them in above-ground bear apartments in the middle of the night. But, she's a sweet kid and refuses to tow the line that all bears are enemies.

So, she meets poor, panhandling Ernest (Forest Whitaker), when he discovers her trapped in a garbage can. At first he tries to eat her, but she takes him by surprise by introducing herself to him. Eventually she suckers him into stealing a bunch of teeth from a tooth store owned by a female bear married to a male bear who owns a candy store right across the street -- thereby keeping each other in business.

Even by cartoon standards, this is one weird world. And the story seems to stress friendship above all, and just skims over the bit where Ernest and Célestine enable each other as thieves. They find themselves living together, in hiding from both the bear police and the mouse police, in Ernest's house. Ernest encourages Célestine's artistic proclivities, and she paints his portrait. They become very important to each other. Try not to think about how creepy this "close friendship" would be if these two characters were humans. Maybe it's a French thing.

Ernest & Célestine still has its moments. There are times when its absurdity hits just the right note, and it offers a few good laughs. The story honestly never comes together in a way that makes any logical sense, and to a large degree instead resembles a surreal dream. The animation is simple, water colors, but often still lovely. The story pulls you along, even when you don't get it. It may be a stretch to call this movie particularly memorable. It'll likely keep small children occupied on your living room floor when you're trying to make dinner. But there's no need to rush on this one.

Ernest & Célestine


Overall: B
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3 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
fatpie42 From: fatpie42 Date: April 11th, 2014 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, Ernest and Celestine IS crazy?

That is SUCH a relief!

All the images I'd seen seemed to suggest that it was a fairly plain "animals that talk" kind of film. But I knew that the creators were responsible for "A Town Called Panic", a piece of insane and hilarious genius, where Horse, Cowboy and Indian live together with Horse being the sensible one constantly having to keep the bickering Cowboy and Indian in line. The main plotline involves them searching for the criminals that keep stealing the walls of their house.
cinema_holic From: cinema_holic Date: April 12th, 2014 10:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
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That much I would say about this movie: it certainly is crazy.

Incidentally, I gave A Town Called Panic a slightly lower grade.
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Edited at 2014-04-12 10:19 pm (UTC)
fatpie42 From: fatpie42 Date: April 12th, 2014 10:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
You know, I think the subtitles on the version of "A Town Called Panic" I watched must have been British. On several occasions it has the characters saying "Crikey". I cannot imagine an American choosing that word for the translation.

More weird than funny? With an image of the cows launched at the house? I mean, I know comedy is extremely subjective, but I'd have said that "A Town Called Panic" was hilarious.
3 comments or Leave a comment