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The M.O.W.'s Movie Reviews (333)

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James and the Giant Peach 
Children might like it, but not worth adults time
2/4 stars

Based on the popular, yet sometimes controversial children's book by James Dahl, we follow "James" (Paul Terry) from his menial life with his mean aunts, the oddly named "Spiker" (Joanna Lumley) and her sister "Sponge" (Miriam Margoyles, who lends her voice to "Glowworm" in the animated segment).

The young boy dreams of one day going to New York City to see the biggest building in the world, the Empire State Building. However, his aunts want to keep him in their home as nothing more than a maid.

One day, "James" meets an old man (Pete Postlethwaite) who offers him a bag of what he calls "aligator tongues". These strange glowing, green animated things changes a peach in his aunts' garden, and causes it to grow to unbelievable proportions. Another one enters "James'" mouth, and changes him (into the animated version of the character) as well.

"James" climbs into the now giant peach and meets a group of insects which live inside it. One of these insects, "Miss Spider" (voiced by Susan Sarandon), "James" saved from extermination when his aunts found her and her web inside the house.

The young boy and his new friends free the peach from the garden, sending it rolling through the town and, eventually, into the ocean. They determine, in an unrealistic way, that the peach is on a direct route to New York City, but the trip is far from easy.

If you ask me, adults will lose interest while watching this film. There really is nothing for adults in this movie. The jokes are childish, and just about everything is forgettable in this movie. While watching this film, I noticed that I was starting more attention to my computer than the film as it progressed.

The one thing that adults might enjoy is the unusual look of the film. From the wardrobes of some of the major characters, to the animation, everything is pretty unique.

It is painfully obvious that the entire movie was filmed on soundstages. I don't even remember seeing any shots of the actual New York City to establish that they have reached their destination. However, the fabricated scenery lends greatly to the unique look of the film. However, I would have liked to have seen the movie end up in the actual "Big Apple" for at least a few scenes.

Another thing that is completely forgettable in this film is the movie's soundtrack. The songs, many of which are performed by characters in what appears to be random times, are so forgettable in fact, that I couldn't tell you one lyric in any of the songs.

The performances in this movie is pretty weak as well. Just about every actor in the live-action segments seems to try to go over-the-top, but fail. Not one of the performances really stand out.

What adults might like in this movie is the animation, which is done by the time-consuming stop-animation style. The movements of the animated characters is absolutely flawless and smooth. Also the style of the characters is reminiscent of "Tim Burton's The Nightmare before Christmas", which was made by the same people behind this film. In fact, there is a bit of a tribute to "Nightmare" in an underwater scene where a character wrongly references skeletons as "skellington", a reference to the lead character in "Nightmare." In fact, the ghostly remains of a pirate in this scene is actually "Jack Skellington" from "Nightmare".

The voice cast does a pretty good job at bringing the animated characters to life. Each character has a fun personality. Even though their performances are not strong, the voice cast does a better job in performing than the ones in the live-action segments.

For someone who has become an uncle since this movie was released to theaters, I can not see me spending the money for the DVD for my nieces. Also, based on what I saw in this movie, I can't see me purchasing the source material, the original novel, for them either.


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