James And The Giant Peach (1996)

Rating: ***
Director: Henry Selick
Music: Randy Newman

Firmly in the mold of Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993), this is a delightful stop-motion animated adaptation of Roald Dahl's timeless children's book. James is a miserable young boy who lives with and is tormented by his two hideously wicked aunts. When he spills some magical pellets in his yard, a giant peach grows, and he crawls inside. Up until this point, the film is live action, but when he enters the peach, James transforms into a rather uninteresting stop-motion puppet. Inside he meets up with a bunch of giant and friendly English speaking insects, and the adventure begins. The film radically strays from the book on several occasions, including an attack by a mechanical shark and an underwater set piece featuring a cameo by "Nightmare's" Jack Skellington. The animation is exquisite and the insects are wonderful - especially the seductively sexy Miss Spider. The film is wondrous and quite magical, but it doesn't hit as close to the mark as its predecessor, "The Nightmare Before Christmas," did.