Ernest and Celestine
It’s interesting how studios and creative people would assume they know what people want. Disney knows that people want to see fairy tale stories and grand animation making the way for memorable characters and catchy songs. Warner Brothers knows that people want to see really fast animation alongside some good visual gags as perpetrated by unique charters with a lot of heart. Most other studios seem to copy either formula in their own projects. It’s not too bad of an idea as long they can make their movies just as original and unique (projects like Despicable Me or Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs).
But I’m surprised with how these two formulas are the only ones that studios want to take a chance on. I’ve already talked about how I miss traditional hand drawn animation in movies today. You could say that children don’t watch those kinds of movies anymore. But I ask of you “Why are classics like Snow White, The Looney Toons and Popeye still being watched by modern kids?”. It’s because they too has great legacies of good characters and memorable situations. There is always room for other options in animation that want something different. That would be one of this years Oscar nominated movies, Ernest and Celestine.
In a lot of ways, this is nothing like modern Disney, Pixar, or the other big names. This tells a simpler story about friendship; a bear and a mouse. So in a world where mice live underground while bears walk and talk, living how we would, both sides agree that each species is evil and shouldn’t we interacted with. At an orphanage, a young mouse Celestine is more curious about why the mice and rats are afraid of bears. She has a job of collecting bear teeth so that mice dentists can file them down for their fellow rodents to wear.
She gets stuck in a garbage can where she is discovered by a starving musician bear, Ernest (played by Forest Whitaker). His first instinct is to eat Celestine, but she quickly scolds him for wanting to do so, confusing him. They make a deal to help each other, but the plan goes amiss and the two hide from the law in Ernest’s home in the woods. Most of time is shown them interacting with each other and their skills; Celestine with her obsession with nature and art and Ernest and his spark for music and clowning.
As I’ve said, this is a different offering from most of the other animated movies out. Ernest and Celestine is a much quieter movie about friendship. Though there’s the principle tone about prejudice, the situation is simple at best. There’s no villain or threating force looking to destroy them. It’s just this bear and mouse interacting and becoming friends. And you know what? That’s all you really need with this kind of story. This is a very sweet and likable story that benefits from some really nice animation and two leads that both kids and adults would really like.
Celestine may just be a young girl whose no higher then a few inches, but she still manages to be very spunky without being too annoying. It’s her curiosity that rubs onto me that makes me want to learn about this world more. Ernest is a grouchy loner, but has plenty of heart that allows himself to absorb a lot of new ideas from this little mouse. The movie looks like one large watercolor painting, really letting the art taking control of the design and story. It looks beautiful. It feels more like something I would get from Winnie the Pooh; is simple but it works really well.
I’ll give this five watercolor kits out of five. Ernest and Celestine isn’t exactly the most original story around, but it wins my heart with a very unique look and a gentle tone that anyone can enjoy. It’s good old fashioned story telling at it’s best. This is an absolute must with families.