Sunday, September 2, 2018

Movie Review: "Ernest & Celestine" (2012)

Director: St├ęphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, and Benjamin Renner
Year: 2012
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

A mouse named Celestine, who has been raised in a society to fear and hate bears, befriends a hungry bear named Ernest by helping him get food. Their friendship leads them to become fugitives from both of their societies.

"I am not your nightmare." (Image Source)
To break through the barriers of hate, sometimes all it takes is a single person (or mouse) willing to offer a helping hand to an individual they are supposed to fear. "Ernest & Celestine" is a French/Belgium/Luxembourg animated film directed by Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar, and Benjamin Renner. Both Aubier and Patar have worked together in the past and are best known for their stop-motion animated film "A Town Called Panic." As for Renner, this is his first feature-length film. The story is about a mouse named Celestine (Mackenzie Foy) who, like most mice, is being groomed to be a dentist even though she prefers to draw. As part of her duties, Celestine and the other young mice are forced to go into the bear city above her home to collect the baby teeth young bear cubs leave under their pillows, which are the perfect shape to become replacement teeth for mice. While in the city, Celestine meets a hungry bear named Ernest (Forest Whitaker), who thinks about eating her before she helps him find an alternative food source. After a while, the two become friends, but they also become outlaws since their societies are not willing to accept that a bear and a mouse could be anything other than enemies.
"Beware the big bad bear for he will give you quite a scare." (Image Source)
One of the first things you'll notice about "Ernest & Celestine" is the animation. It is beautiful in a simplistic sort of way. It looks as if it were all done in watercolor, giving us a "The Tale of Princess Kaguya" vibe if it were combined with aesthetic of one of the drawings from Beatrix Potter. The story itself delivers a message about tolerance of those who are different and breaking through learned biases to do what is right for the sake of your friends. It is mostly very sweet, though it can occasionally venture into some darker imagery. Despite being a movie intended for kids, it does appear very mature at times. There are scenes where characters go on a racist tirade while they are literally on fire to make their point. Luckily, it's not all fire and brimstone. We found ourselves drawn to both Ernest and Celestine as characters thanks to the tremendous voiceover work by Mackenzie Foy and Forest Whitaker. Nick Offerman, Lauren Bacall, Megan Mullally, and Paul Giamatti also do a stellar job as various characters Ernest and Celestine encounter on their journey together. They have to learn to get over their own hang-ups even after first becoming friends. We enjoy watching their relationship grow and evolve over the length of the story. That being said, this isn't a fast-paced story that breezes through its runtime, though it's not super long. The story doesn't go too deep into explaining why these hatreds exist between the two societies other than the fact that one is a natural predator and the other natural prey, though the bears in this universe tend to eat candy and vegetables as opposed to creatures found in the wild.
"Mice can only be friends with bears in fairytales." (Image Source)
"Ernest and Celestine" is an adorable film with brilliant animation and top-notch voiceover work. Its heartfelt message is both necessary and paramount. It is one every kid should hear at a young age. This film is absolutely worth checking out if you have the desire to watch something animated. 

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.9/10
RT Rating: 97%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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