|Courtesy of GKids|
ERNEST & CÉLESTINE
2014, 80 minutes
Rated PG for some scary moments
Review by Joshua Handler
An Oscar-nominee for Best Animated Feature Film, Ernest & Célestine is the best animated feature film I've seen in a long time. I don't see a lot of animated films per year (not for lack of interest, but for lack of good choices), but when I find one that I love, it becomes a new favorite. A short, sweet delight with a light sense of humor and beautiful animation, Ernest & Célestine is, to use a cliched phrase sincerely, nothing short of a miracle. The film tells the story of Célestine, a mouse who lives underground with the mouse community, but doesn't fit in. The mice are taught to fear the bears that live above ground, especially a ruthless one called "the big bad bear". One day, Célestine goes above ground and befriends a lonely bear, Ernest.
A lot of what makes Ernest & Célestine so extraordinary is how sincere and sweet it is. Ernest and Célestine are the ultimate odd couple with two endearing personalities. There is nothing romantic between them. They're just friends, which makes everything so much more refreshing and special. So much of what makes these characters wonderful are their voices. Lambert Wilson (Of Gods and Men) voices Ernest and Pauline Brunner voices Célestine and they ooze charm, Wilson especially. His comedic timing is spot-on and the animation that complements the moments of comedy bring it to glorious life.
The hand-drawn animation gives the film a homemade, loving quality that rarely shows in computer-animated films. Computer-animated films frequently feel colder and less human than hand-drawn ones (the best of Pixar's movies are exceptions). When looking at recent hand-drawn films like Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises and Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist, there is a distinctness to the style. These films look like works of art and look as if their creators put their hearts and souls into them. Ernest & Célestine epitomizes what I love about hand-drawn animation.
The humor in Ernest & Célestine somehow always works. I cannot explain why I laughed at nearly every joke or moment of humor, but I did. The characters and the film itself have such a joie de vivre, making everything a pleasure to watch.
Overall, Ernest & Célestine is a masterpiece of animation and one that I will certainly revisit many times in the years to come. While I have no doubt that the American dub of the film is excellent (the voice cast is top-notch), I would recommend opting for the original French version subtitled in English if you have the option. There's nothing to me like viewing a film in its original language. I cannot recommend Ernest & Célestine enough and recommend that you see it at your earliest convenience. It will brighten your day.