The French animated import Ernest & Celestine manages to dispel two related myths. The first of these, encouraged by so many thoughtpieces on the juvenile status of American animation, stuck in an eight-decade reliance on the codes established by Walt Disney’s cartoons, is that foreign animation is somehow inherently more mature and grown-up than homegrown stuff. This is emphatically untrue of Ernest & Celestine, which is as much a “kids’ movie” as anything that Pixar or Disney or DreamWorks of Blue Sky has put out in a decade.
The other myth is that kids’ movies are merely that – movies best or even solely enjoyed by kids, with maybe some feeble gesture in the direction of keeping their parents barely amused. This is emphatically untrue of Ernest & Celestine. Certainly, if some farcical complication on the model of an ‘80s adventure comedy put me in control of children, I’d be hugely enthusiastic about putting them in front of the film, which is very warm and sweet, with an unmistakable moral about accepting people who aren’t like you, fleshed out by deeply appealing characters. But I don’t have those children, and without any such excuse, I’m still hugely enthusiastic about the thing; warmth, sweetness, and well-meant life lessons aren’t solely the province of the very young, after all.