Animated films are being released a ll the time with usually the big budget ones scoring all the accolades and most of the straight to video releases falling short. Most of these tend to rip off the bigger ones or rehashing the same nonsense over and over, but every so often something different and fresh comes along which is the case of the French-Belgian film Ernest & Celestine, but does it stand out and deliver something new or will it just feel like another one of the forgettable video releases?
Ernest and Celestine follows a world of where the Bears live above ground in their cities and the rodents live below in in their underground ones in mutual fear and hate. When an apprentice mouse dentist, finds at least momentary common cause with a poor street Bear musician, that gets them rejected from both their respective worlds it forces them into exile and finds a growing friendship between them as their respective talents flower because of it while dealing with the prejudices of their worlds. At first glance this film may or may not be all that eye catching compared to the usual vibrant colored CGI animation of today, but it is easily one of the most beautifully animated films in a long time. The style and feel of it all takes it back to the old school animation look and feel giving everything in this little world more life and purpose than it might have had. The story is pretty simple, but underneath packs an emotional punch dealing with a real issue in the world and while keeping it from ever getting too heavy never steps away too far from its message. The American voice cast includes Forest Whitaker, Mackenzie Foy, Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman, and Jeffrey Wright who all bring subtle yet perfect performances to their characters.
This is one of those animated films that feel like it came right off the page of a story book and just came to life. At first it might feel a bit slow, but it allows the story and the characters build into a direction that pays off in the end to deliver on of the best most original animated films to come along in years. In addition to the film, this Blu-ray also features original French audio track with English subtitles as well as the English audio, animatic, an interview with director Benjamin Renner and a ‘Making of’ featurette.
Don’t miss this beautiful animated film when it hits stores on June 17th.