Simple and Cute
The foreign animation "Ernest and Celestine" is a must see for families. Originally voiced in french, the film transitions well from english dubbing. Though the themes presented don't cover new ground, the easy to understand approach along with impeccable animation makes the film invaluable for children and adults alike. There is a clear class conflict between bears and mice, though Celestine (a mouse) desires to befriend a bear. It does a good job of showing how the perception of other animals (as shown through exaggerated, feigned, and manipulative stories) can mislead us. Though initially frightened of each other, Ernest and Celestine brush away their misconceptions by talking it through. Other themes include the pitfalls of unjust exploitation and staying true to one's lifes goals regardless of what society demands us to be. Aside from the great messages, the characters do misbehave a bit. Ernest and Celestine steal candy from a shop's cellar, a large number of teeth (a wealthy commodity in this society), and even take a shop owner's car while being pursued by the bear police. Though the store owners are questionable morals and the mice are tasked to steal teeth, these actions are a bit hard to justify. There are also some scary (but non-violent) moments and scenes of peril. The stories of the bear told by the mice society might be a bit scary for very young children, but it's not graphic (just a recount that bears like to eat mice). There's also a mildly frightening nightmare sequence (about 30 seconds) where Celestine is trapped in a sea of mice and a spooky voice tells her she shouldn't have befriended a bear (though she wakes up with Ernest to reassure her). A bear shop owner attacks (but fails to hurt) Celestine for intruding. When both societies become aware of the robbery, they angrily chase and track down Ernest and Celestine. While escaping from the mouse society, Ernest accidentally wrecks a few buildings when jumping from house to house while pursued by a swarm of mice police (though nobody is hurt). They are jailed temporarily and a death sentence is implied though never stated (a mouse and bear trap are created). When on trial, the courtroom lights on fire by accident while the judges are phased in a tirade, though Ernest and Celestine save them from the fire. These are the only scary scenes though and the are far and few between. Most of the story revolves around the friendly interaction between Ernest and Celestine. Lastly there is some mild name calling (moron, stupid, dumb), but it's infrequent and mild. A definite recommend for all families, though it might be a little scary for viewers under 6 years old.