Thursday, August 12, 2010


"Try looking at it another way...."

This delightful family fantasy, based on a book by Roald Dahl, and directed by Henry Selick (CORALINE), never seems to be discussed much by animation buffs and Disneyphiles, but maybe the new Blu-Ray/DVD reissue of JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH (1996) will bring more attention to this unjustly unheralded gem.

The story is fairy-tale simple - and pure Dahl; an orphan named James (Paul Terry), whose parents were killed by an inexplicable rhinoceros, lives with his horrible aunts (Joanna Lumley and Miriam Margolyes) in resigned misery. Then, one day, a peach appears on an otherwise barren tree, rapidly growing to giant proportions. James befriends the man-sized bugs who live inside the fruit, and, using the peach as their vessel, they set out together on a journey to the place James' parents once promised to take him to: New York City.

Combining live-action with charming stop-motion animation, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH is a minor fantasy classic, and a decent adaptation of Dahl's surreal childrens' story. For Selick, it was a fine follow-up to his work on THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, and why it didn't achieve the same kind of following is a bit bewildering.

Disney has just re-released the title as a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack. The new release features a remastered, 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen HD transfer and 5.1 DTS/5.1 Surround sound. The Blu-Ray disc includes a "Spike the Aunts" interactive game as its only bonus feature. The DVD disc includes a behind-the-scenes featurette, a Randy Newman music video, and the original theatrical trailer.

For animation fans of any age - and particularly those who love THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and/or CORALINE, JAMES & THE GIANT PEACH is highly recommended. It's an extraordinary adventure, and looks stunning in high-definition.

BUY: James and the Giant Peach (Two-Disc Special Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo) [Blu-ray]