James and the Giant Peach (1996)

Flying rhinos, enchanted crocodile tongues, and one very large 
piece of fruit.  It's all business as usual for Roald Dahl, whose 
1961 children's book has been brought to partially-animated life by 
director Henry Selick (THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS) and producer 
Tim Burton (same).  Book-ended by extended live-action segments, 
the pit of this PEACH is a plum of a stop-motion story about a 
boy's adventure with several human-sized insects.  (They are 
enlarged along with the peach.)  The animation is dazzling, the 
voices are well-cast, and the humor is very droll.  (Says one bug 
of another, "he's committing pesticide!")  Too bad the story drags.  
The ending is also a wash, and the songs, by Randy Newman, sound 
like, well, songs by Randy Newman.  Of course, it's not every day 
that we get to hear Richard Dreyfuss and Simon Callow performing 
showtunes together!  (The former's musical range has marginally 
improved since MR. HOLLAND'S ANUS.)  Speaking of Freud, adults 
should wholly enjoy the many darker aspects-- and psychological 
possibilities-- of this story, even as they fidget, even as their 
kids don't.  (Rated "G"/80 min.)

Grade: B

Copyright 1996 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: April 14, 1996

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