Five stars. Rating: Suitable for all ages, despite the ludicrous PG rating for "scary moments"
By Derrick Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 2.28.14
“Adorable” can’t convey my depth of feeling for this enchanting little film.
Indeed, mere words seem wholly insufficient.
Despite being one of the 2013 Academy Awards nominees for best animated feature, Ernest & Celestine remains virtually unknown to American viewers, aside from the lucky few who may have caught it at a film festival. Frankly, this film’s obscurity is tragic ... and typical of an emerging pattern in this Oscar category.
For the past several years, since the rising popularity of animated films has prompted a corresponding abundance of nominees, some of them have raised puzzled eyebrows. While the animation branch’s nominating members are to be congratulated for citing entries from outside the United States, that generosity of spirit hasn’t been embraced by American movie distributors ... nor by mainstream American viewers who, already reluctant to subject themselves to live-action foreign films, apparently are even less willing to watch animated foreign films.
Thus, a frustrating pattern has emerged, particularly for dedicated Oscar fans wanting to catch as many nominees as possible, prior to the annual awards ceremony. That has become quite difficult — even impossible — with the animated features, since some of them don’t get released here in the States until weeks after the Oscars.
Back in 2009, the French/Belgian/Irish The Secret of Kells didn’t garner American distribution until mid-March ... and then availability was spotty, at best. In 2011, the same was true of Chico & Rita (Spain and the UK) and A Cat in Paris (France, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands).
Never heard of any of them? I’m not surprised. Saturation-booked, high-profile domestic entries from Pixar, Disney and DreamWorks steal all the media focus.
But being louder and more ubiquitous doesn’t make them better than their overlooked and under-appreciated peers.
This year, that same fate has befallen superstar Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises and the French/Belgian co-production of Ernest & Celestine. Miyazaki’s film, at least, is being released in our market today; Oscar stalwarts have roughly 48 hours to catch it before Sunday’s awards broadcast.