© 1996 Allied Filmmakers

James and the Giant Peach (1996)

Since I have been going through all of Tim Burton’s movies, I thought I would finally get around to seeing James and the Giant Peach. It was only produced by Burton, and directed by Henry Selick, who previously helmed The Nightmare Before Christmas because Burton could not delay his other projects, namely Batman, for the three-year shooting schedule required by the stop-motion. I am not sure how much Burton was really involved, but the look of Nightmare and his early short Vincent carry over to this film.

James and the Giant Peach is really what a kids movie should be. It is based on a story by Roald Dahl that is both fanciful and full of ideas. It is not dumbed down for young audiences, and touches on more serious themes such as death and loss.

The look of the stop motion sequences is great, and a vast improvement on the earlier jumpy motion of Nightmare, and the live action scenes that bookend the film are effective in their intentional fake atmosphere. The real highlight for me was Joanna Lumley in a small role as one of James’ aunts, relishing playing a really terrible character.

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“Nobody needs a mink coat but the mink.”
-Felix Bassenak (S.Z. Sakall)
from Christmas in Connecticut