08 February 2009

DVD: "James and the Giant Peach" - Special Edition

James and the Giant Peach - Special Edition with Disney Movie Club Exclusive Sleeve
Directed by Henry Selick
Screenplay by Karey Kirkpatrick and Jonathan Roberts & Steve Bloom
Based upon the novel by Roald Dahl
Starring: Simon Callow (voice), Richard Dreyfuss (voice), Jane Leeves (voice), Joanna Lumley, Miriam Margolyes, Pete Postlethwaite, Susan Sarandon (voice), Paul Terry, David Thewlis (voice)
DVD Release Date: 3 October 2000
MPAA Rating: PG (For Some Frightening Images)
List Price: $19.99
Cinescope Personality Types: Magical Creator, Youthful Sage, Chosen Adventurer

The Film
James and the Giant Peach is an adaption of Roald Dahl's novel by the director of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas.  This is how the film was marketed, this is what the film is.  The story follows James (Terry) as his abusive aunts take custody of him following his parents's death.  The aunts (Lumley and Margolyes) are genuinely disturbing, even menacing.  An old man brings James some magical...things..that cause peach to grow on a barren tree.  The aunts market the peach as a carnival-type attraction, until one day James escapes into it and discovers the anthropomorphized insects of the home living within it.  James and the insects make off in the peach for New York City, where his parents had intended to take him.

The fantasy portions of the film are done in stop-motion, and they generally work.  There are several plot holes, and it's never good to notice such things in a 79-minute long film.  I have never read the original novel, so I cannot speak to its faithfulness--Dahl purists will have to decide for themselves what they think of the adaptation.  As a film, it's hardly compelling and rarely interesting.  There are some genuinely funny lines, but they are not enough to make this a must-see title.

Only one of the few features is a documentary of the film itself.  It runs just a few minutes, so you're not going to gain any real insight into the production.  A lot of the footage is repeated in the music video for Randy Newman's song, "Good News."  Otherwise, the only other things on the disc are a visual gallery of some concept art and still photographs, and trailers for James and the Giant Peach, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Toy Story 2 and Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure.  The former two are in the bonus features section; the latter two are "Sneak Peaks" that play when the DVD starts.

The Recommendation
Adult audiences will likely find James and the Giant Peach either bothersome (for the aunts's treatment of James) or boring.  Ultimately, only fans of either Dahl's or Selick's will consider this a must-see (or must-own) title.  Definitely not one to recommend at full list price.

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