James and the Giant Peach (film)
|James and the Giant Peach|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Henry Selick|
|Produced by||Denise Di Novi
|Screenplay by||Karey Kirkpatrick
|Based on||James and the Giant Peach
by Roald Dahl
|Narrated by||Pete Postlethwaite|
|Music by||Randy Newman|
|Edited by||Stan Webb|
|Walt Disney Pictures
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Running time||79 minutes|
|Box office||$37,734,758|
James and the Giant Peach is a 1996 British-American musical fantasy film directed by Henry Selick, based on the 1961 novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. It was produced by Tim Burton and Denise Di Novi. The film is a combination of live action and stop-motion animation.
In the 1930s, James Henry Trotter is a young boy who lives with his parents by the sea in the United Kingdom. On James's birthday, they plan to go to New York City and visit the Empire State Building, the tallest building in the world. However, his parents are later killed by a ghostly rhinoceros from the sky and finds himself living with his two neglectful aunts, Spiker and Sponge.
He is forced to work all day and they threaten him with beatings to keep him in line and taunt him about the mysterious rhino and other hazards if he tries to leave.
While rescuing a spider from being squashed by his aunts, James meets a mysterious man with a bag of magic green "crocodile tongues", which he gives to James to make his life better. The soldier warns him not to lose the "tongues" and disappears. When James is returning to the house, he trips and the "tongues" escape into the ground.
A peach is soon found on a withered old tree, and expands into immense proportions. Spiker and Sponge then use the giant peach as an attraction, making lots of money as James watches from the house, not permitted to leave. That night, James is sent to pick up the garbage. While doing so, he grabs a chunk of the peach to eat as one of the "crocodile tongues" unknowingly jumps into it. A large hole appears inside the peach and James crawls inside, where he finds and befriends a group of life-size anthropomorphic bugs who also dream of an ideal home (Grasshopper, Centipede, Earthworm, Miss Spider, Ladybug, and Glowworm), and is also turned into a more animated form. As they hear the aunts search for James, Centipede manages to cut the stem connecting the giant peach to the tree and the peach rolls away to the Atlantic Ocean with James and his friends inside it, seemingly crushing Spiker and Sponge's antique car as they try to chase it.
Remembering his dream to visit New York City, James and the insects decide to go there with Centipede steering the peach claiming he sailed the world as a "Commodore". They use Miss Spider's silk to capture and tie a hundred seagulls to the peach stem, while battling against a giant robotic shark. They escape just in time. While flying, James and his friends eventually find themselves hungry and soon realize that "their whole ship is made out of food". After gorging most of the inside of the peach, Miss Spider, while using her web to tuck in James, reveals to him that she was the spider he saved from Spiker and Sponge. James then has a nightmare of him as a caterpillar attacked by Spiker, Sponge, and a spray the aunts used that resembles the rhino. When he wakes up, he and his friends find themselves in The Arctic, lost and cold. The Centipede has fallen asleep while keeping watch, resulting in them drifting further away from their expected destination. It is then revealed that the Centipede has never traveled the world and has lived on two pages of the National Geographic. After hearing the Grasshoper wishing they had a compass, Centipede jumps off the peach into the icy water below and searches a sunken ship for a compass but is taken prisoner by a group of skeletal pirates. James and Miss Spider rescue him and the journey continues.
As the group finally reaches New York City, a storm appears. A flash of lightning reveals the rhino approaching them. James is frightened but faces his fears and gets his friends to safety before the rhino strikes the peach with lightning; The strings keeping the seagulls attached to the peach break and James and the peach both fall to the city below. James coughs up the crocodile tongue as he reawakens, transforms back into his normal form, and emerges from the peach realizing it has landed directly on top of the Empire State Building.
After being rescued by police officers, firefighters, and the largest crane in New York City, Spiker and Sponge arrive, supposedly having driven their car across the seabed, and attempt to claim James and the peach. James stands up to Spiker and Sponge, revealing their abusive behavior towards him to the crowd, who gasp in shock at the revelation. Spiker and Sponge become enraged by James' betrayal and attempt to kill James. Using the remaining seagulls, the bugs arrive in New York City. They tie up Spiker and Sponge with Miss Spider's silk and the two aunts are taken away. James introduces his friends and allows the children of New York to eat up the peach.
The peach pit is made into a house in Central Park, where James lives with the bugs and has the friends he could wish for. Centipede runs for the Mayor of New York City, Grasshopper becomes a professional violinist, Earthworm becomes a mascot for a new cream, Ladybug becomes an obstetrician, Glowworm lights up the Statue of Liberty, Miss Spider owns a nightclub called "Spider Club", and James celebrates his 9th birthday with his new family.
- Paul Terry as James Henry Trotter
- Miriam Margolyes as Sponge
- Joanna Lumley as Spiker
- Pete Postlethwaite as Magic Man/Narrator
- Simon Callow as Grasshopper
- Richard Dreyfuss as Centipede
- Jeff Bennett as Centipede (singing voice)
- Jane Leeves as Ladybug
- Susan Sarandon as Miss Spider
- David Thewlis as Earthworm
- Miriam Margolyes as the Glowworm
- My Name Is James - Paul Terry
- That's the Life For Me - Jeff Bennett, Susan Sarandon, Jane Leeves, Miriam Margolyes, Simon Callow, and David Thewlis
- Eating the Peach - Jeff Bennett, Susan Sarandon, Jane Leeves, Miriam Margolyes, Simon Callow, David Thewlis, and Paul Terry
- Family - Simon Callow, Jeff Bennett, Jane Leeves, David Thewlis, Susan Sarandon, Miriam Margolyes, and Paul Terry
- Good News - Randy Newman
The film begins with normal live-action for the first 20 minutes, but becomes stop-motion animation after James enters the peach, and then live-action when James enters New York City, New York (although the mutated insect characters remained in stop-motion). Selick had originally planned for James to be a real actor through the entire film, then later considered doing the whole film in stop-motion, but ultimately settled on doing entirely live-action and entirely stop-motion sequences because of costs. Unlike the novel, James' aunts are not killed by the rolling peach (though his parents' deaths also occur like the novel) and follow him to New York, and the film also has James dream of going to New York instead of simply winding up there.
Though Roald Dahl declined numerous offers to have a film version of James and the Giant Peach produced during his lifetime, his widow, Liccy, approved an offer to have a live action version produced. She thinks Roald "would have been delighted with what they did with James. It is a wonderful film."
James and the Giant Peach received near-universal acclaim from film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 93% based on reviews from 69 critics, with a "Certified Fresh" rating and an average score of 7.2/10. The site's consensus states: "The arresting and dynamic visuals, offbeat details and light-as-air storytelling make James and the Giant Peach solid family entertainment".
Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a positive review, praising the animated part, but calling the live-action segments "crude." Writing in the New York Times, Janet Maslin called the film "a technological marvel, arch and innovative with a daringly offbeat visual conception" and "a strenuously artful film with a macabre edge."
- Nichols, Peter M. (2003). The New York Times Essential Library: Children's Movies. New York: Henry Holt and Company. pp. 134–136. ISBN 0-8050-7198-9.
- Evans, Noah Wolfgram. "Layers: A Look at Henry Selick". Retrieved December 12, 2008.
- Roberts, Chloe; Darren Horne. "Roald Dahl: From Page to Screen". close-upfilm.com. Retrieved December 9, 2008.
- James and the Giant Peach at Rotten Tomatoes
- Gleiberman, Owen (April 19, 1996). "James and the Giant Peach (1996) review". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on June 27, 2010. Retrieved December 12, 2008.
- Maslin review
- Foster, Dave (May 19, 2010). "James and the Giant Peach (US BD) in August". The Digital Fix. Archived from the original on June 27, 2010. Retrieved June 27, 2010.
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- Official website
- James and the Giant Peach at the Internet Movie Database
- James and the Giant Peach at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- James and the Giant Peach at AllMovie
- James and the Giant Peach at Box Office Mojo
- James and the Giant Peach at Rotten Tomatoes