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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ernest & Celestine is a lovely hand-drawn French animated movie about the unlikely friendship between a mouse and a bear. Dubbed in English, the critically acclaimed Oscar-nominated film is the story of finding friendship where you least expect it and defending that friendship against discrimination and prejudice. There is some occasional insult language ("dumb," "moron") and a few scary moments when the two pals are being followed and then put on trial -- as well as a frightening bedtime story about mice-eating bears. A fire nearly kills a few characters, but they're saved at the last minute.
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What's the story?
Based on the popular French picture books by author Gabrielle Vincent, ERNEST & CELESTINE follows a little mouse named Celestine (Mackenzie Foy), who lives in the world below. Despite her orphanage matron's (Lauren Bacall) terrifying nightly tales about the "Big Bad Bear," Celestine imagines there's a sweet bear in the world above. One day, after Celestine is trapped in a trash can in the world above, Ernest (Forest Whitaker), a penniless bear, finds and nearly eats her, but instead they forge an unlikely friendship that upsets both of their communities. After Celestine helps Ernest escape arrest, and Ernest helps Celestine steal teeth badly needed down below, they end up being hounded by both sets of police who want to convict them for their crime of befriending the enemy.
Is it any good?
This is an important story about overcoming prejudice and sticking up for your friends -- even if they're unpopular or misunderstood by your community. Ernest & Celestine is a beautifully hand-drawn feature with a watercolor palette. Of course, many young children will just delight in the story of a tiny and adorable little mouse befriending a troubadour bear who's really, really hungry, but it's always good when a kids' movie has meaningful themes.
Academy-Award winning Whitaker has just the ragged, robust voice for Ernest, a broke and hungry bear that can't catch or find any food until Celestine convinces him not eat her but to dip into a greedy candy seller's reserves. Foy, who is best known for playing Edward and Bella's daughter Renesmee in the final Twilight, has the perfect combination of sweetness and spunk to voice Celestine -- the orphan who dreams of a world where the bears above and the mice below don't have to fear and hate each other but can and do become friends. If only people were as sensible as Ernest and Celestine.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the theme of friendship and what it means to stick up for a friend. What do you think the filmmaker is trying to say about the nature of friendship?
What made the judges change their minds about Ernest and Celestine? What characteristics make Ernest and Celestine good role models?
Discuss the style of hand-drawn animation. How does it compare to the more popular use of computer-generated animation?
This movie is inspired by a series of French children's books. Does the movie make you curious about reading the picture children's books?
- In theaters: February 28, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: June 17, 2014
- Cast: Forest Whitaker, Lauren Bacall, Mackenzie Foy
- Directors: Stéphane Aubier, Benjamin Renner, Vincent Patar
- Studio: GKIDS
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 80 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some scary moments
- Last updated: May 27, 2020
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