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James and the Giant Peach

Posted by martinteller on April 14, 2014

Well, this was pretty dreadful in most respects.  Sometimes crafting a scathing review can be a ton of fun, but I really don’t want to waste a lot of time on this one.  So forgive me if this rambles, but I really don’t even know where to start.  The kid playing James, Paul Terry, was truly awful.  I hated him.  James is the least interesting part of the book, too, but here they put so much attention on him that you’re constantly reminded of how annoying (“fwiends”) he is.  And the animation model for him is absolutely hideous, with that humungous head and those beady eyes.  The songs by Randy Newman (ugh) are typically forgettable Disney crap, no fun at all.  I was hoping I’d be spared having to hear Newman himself actually sing, but nope, there he is at the end.  Although I find the much-beloved Tim Burton/Henry Selick production The Nightmare Before Christmas somewhat lacking, it’s miles better than this, where the combination of creepy and whimsical is rather unpleasant most of the time.  I didn’t like being immersed in this universe, whether live action or animated.  The stop-motion animation is very smooth and professional, but often has an unappealing plastic-y look to it.

Paragraph break?  Why not!  Wes Anderson proved you can adapt a Roald Dahl story without being entirely faithful to the book… but here, the changes to the source material are for the worse.  Instead of getting killed by the peach, Aunts Spiker and Sponge are spared to return at the end (oh yeah, spoilers… sorry, don’t care) to give the irritating James an exceedingly phony, easy and formulaic bit of triumph.  Maybe this works for children, I don’t know.  I thought the climax was just terrible.  I will say the addition of the skeleton ship scene did offer a couple of entertaining moments, but I think I’d have rather seen the “Cloud Men” from the book.

I liked Miss Spider, both in the animation and Susan Sarandon’s vocal performance.  There, that’s something positive.  Spider was rad.  I chose this screenshot in honor of her.  Grasshopper (Simon Callow) was pretty neat, too.  And Pete Postlethwaite was okay.  There were maybe three or four good lines (which may have come from the book, it’s been too long for me to recall).  Otherwise, this experience ranged from mediocre to miserable for me.  I don’t know if there’s any way to turn this book into a good movie, I just know this wasn’t it.  Rating: Crap (33)

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2 Responses to “James and the Giant Peach”

  1. mountanto said

    I loved this movie as a kid, but I haven’t seen it for over 15 years. I have to wonder if this holds up.

    Have you seen Matilda? I liked it even more and feel like it would hold up better.

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