By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
The cinematic adaptation of Jakob Martin Strid‘s Den Kempestore Pere (The Incredible Story of the Giant Pear) may well have some fans of children’s works wonder how it stands to Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach? Both shine as solid pieces of family entertainment. The Danish work is getting distribution in North America courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment and is available on VOD services like iTunes and Google Play.
This delightful work is comparable to Hayao Miyazaki‘s Castle in the Sky, Laputa. This filmmaker was the key animator to notable early works like Animal Treasure Island and Puss in Boots, and for this newest film, it may have drawn some inspiration by it. When two anthropomorphic kids, Sebastian (Alfred Bjerre Larsen), an elephant, and Mitcho (Liva Elvira Magnussen), a cat, find a message in a bottle, revealing where J.B. (the Mayor of Sunnytown) disappeared off to, they embark on a wondrous adventure (in a pear).
The magical elements comprise growing an oversized fruit in the backyard and interacting with the spirit world. The vibrant CGI action looks terrific and even gets spooky when the elephantine kid meets his great-grandfather. This far-off island has many secrets, and one of them I did not expect since I was not aware of the original work upon chancing across this movie.
Added elements include a coming of age narrative, overcoming natural fears (as youthful animals, they can shy away from what these creatures are naturally timid at) and teaching younger viewers how to think outside of the box. Not all solutions are by the book; some can be solved creatively, and that’s where this movie shines. Loyalty is also another theme here; whether that’s between kin or with longtime friends. Sebastian is adamant in saving J.B. When considering their bond may well include the president perhaps being also godfather to these two kids (their parents are nowhere in sight) this detail is implied.
These two youths have a human scientist, Professor Glucose (Peter Frödin), to help with their journey. Much of it recalls the same style of adventure in the aforementioned anime. They encounter pirates and a mysterious barrier. Just how they arrive is not without some peril. Even as an adult piece of entertainment, it’s a relatively quick watch. Nothing is stretched out when adapting the book to film. The short run time of 80 minutes (which includes credits) is just right to tell this tale.
4 Stars out of 5