James and the Giant Peach

Henry Selick is not a director I am familiar with. When I read up on him I noticed that he has worked with Tim Burton (who is a producer on this film) on a couple of films (Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christmas) and this film also has that distinctive Burton look to it. In his own very particular way he mixes live-action and stop action while also blending in CGI special effects to create a mesmerizing film.

A young boy named James (Paul Terry) is orphaned after his parents are eaten by a dark rhino. He then has to live with his two quite unpleasant aunts, Spiker (Joanna Lumley – from television's Absolutely Fabulous) and Sponge (Miriam Margolyes – How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Flushed Away). The poor thing is abused and starved by the two meanies. On top of that they force him to do all the work on the deserted island they live on. Not a very happy existence for a sweet young boy who has lost his parents. He survives by dreaming of going to New York like his parents had promised him.

Just when James gets to his lowest point he is given a gift by a mysterious stranger. After planting it a magical peach begins to grow and grow and grow. Soon enough there is a giant peach in his aunts' backyard and of course being their self serving selves they see a chance to make a profit, so they begin to charge people an admission to see it.

James then befriends the magical bugs which are inside the giant peach and takes off with them on an ocean voyage inside the large fruit trying to get to New York. For the first time in a long time James has real friends and some hope in life.

If you are a parent of a young child or know of one you must give them this film to see. It is magical and different from any other. The imagination and wonder in the film is remarkable. And don't even get me started on the heart involved! In many ways (now, I might get some arguments here) it actually surpasses the book.

The adaptation of Dahl's wonderfully imaginative book, filled with the friendliest of bugs like Grasshopper, Ladybug, Spider, and Centipede, is quite a faithful one. The animation is a treat and the voicework by the likes of Jane Leeves, Susan Sarandon, David Thewlis, and Pete Postlethwaithe is marvelous.

The only warning I have to give is that the opening sequence might be a little scary for the littlest of ones, so do take caution.

Special Features:
-A look at the making of the film
– "Good News" music video performed by Randy Newman
-Original theatrical trailer

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