By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Every other year or so, it seems like an unheard of foreign animated flick sneaks into the Oscar race out of nowhere, usually distributed by GKIDS. This year that flick may well be the French Ernest & Celestine.
This movie is set in a world of mice and bears, and because the tooth fairy is a mouse in the Godless carnal circus that is France, where up is down and you can see boobies on the news, Celestine is a mouse who helps collect molars that bear children leave under their pillows for recycling into replacement mouse teeth. Ernest is a grumpy loner bear. Of course they end up friends, and of course their respective societies are against it.
Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar, the filmmakers behind this, also made the delightfully bizarre A Town Called Panic, although they changed up their style from Robot Chicken stop motion to traditionally bland animation here.
What they do retain is their odd sense of humor and talent for kinetic set pieces. Just looking at that synopsis shows you how weirdly imaginative Aubier and Patar are, and some of the action they stage here is truly unique.
Apparently mice police are like GTA cops or World War Z zombies
At its heart, though, the movie is an ode to unlikely friendships and thinking for yourself, and by the time the end rolls around even a Grinch should find their heart sufficiently warmed.
That animation really is quite blah. The script also tends to overexplain, killing the joke and/or social commentary at hand, like a bear couple’s candy & tooth replacement monopoly being laid out over the dinner table to their son long after even the kids should have picked up on it.
This is in the running for an Oscar, and honestly I haven’t seen a better animated flick this year (although that’s faint praise in a year The Croods may get nominated). Regardless, a funny, charming little fable everyone should love.
Take a Drink: whenever bears are referred to as evil
Take a Drink: whenever Ernest scowls
Do a Shot: when the pigs, I mean bears, I mean mice, I mean police show up