The Roald Dahl children's book comes to life in this
partly animated, partly live action feature. This is a
Disney-funded movie with songs by Randy Newman and directed
by Henry Selick. It is strange and interesting, but
doesn't quite deliver.
James is a typical little boy who has the ideal life
with his loving parents, who plan on taking him to
New York City to see the Empire State Building. But
instead his parents are eaten by a rhino that
comes out of the clouds (I am not making this up)
and James is sent to live with his Aunts.
His Aunts are horrid step-parents who complete each
other's sentences, need makeovers badly, and delight
in their cruelty to James. He spends his days doing
chores and sleeps in the attic, while his Aunts lazy
about. For dinner he is given fish heads to eat.
After rescuing a spider, things look up for James
when he encounters a curious man who gives him green
glowy things he says are magic crocodile tongues.
Whatever, they sure jump around a lot, and James
can't catch any of them. They find their way into
a peach, which soon grows to be the size of a house.
All of this is live-action.
The Aunts sell admission to see the giant peach,
treating the other neighborhood children as badly
as they do James. Later, James takes a bite from
the peach. A hole opens in the side of the peach.
James crawls in, and the movie becomes stop-motion
James meet the peach's other residents, an assortment
of bugs such as a centipede, a grasshopper, a worm
and a lady spider who serves as a mother figure to
James. These bugs are bigger than James and can talk
(and, unfortunately, sing). To escape the pesky
Aunts, the centipede frees the big peach from its
stem, and the peach rolls down the hill landing in
the Atlantic Ocean, on course to New York City.
A giant mechanical shark threatens the peach. James
has the bright idea of using the worm to attract
seagulls, which the spider uses her web to anchor
to the peach. The peach is now airborne and manages
to escape from the hungry shark, which in its stubborn
efforts to get the peach self-destructs.
James has a nifty little dream sequence that is the
best part of the movie. Too bad he wakes up.
The peach goes off course due to carelessness
on the part of the braggart centipede. To redeem
himself, he jumps in the icy waters to retrieve a
compass. I don't know how he knew there was a compass
down there. He must have read the script.
The compass is on a wrecked ship surrounded by skeletons
of the unlucky crew. These skeletons spring to life to
attack the poor centipede. The spider and James come
to the rescue, and all survive with the compass.
Back on course, the evil rhino comes out of the clouds
to get James and his peach. James confronts him, saying
he doesn't exist, and the rhino goes away. That was easy.
But the peach falls out of control, landing smack on
the Empire State building.
The Aunts re-appear, claiming their peach and wanting to
take James back to his attic. James' bug friends come out
of the peach, and the lady spider spins a web around
the nasty old Aunts. We next see what is left of the peach,
its giant pit, which is still home to the big bugs and
James, who sits on a porch regaling visiting children with
tales of his adventures.
Copyright © 1996 Brian Koller