Made by the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, this has an enchanting, at times ghoulish, appeal. An adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic story, Selick's film may not have made any spectacular technical advance on his previous work (the animated central section is sandwiched by stylised live-action sequences), but, despite a lightness of plot, it most beautifully captures the book's free-floating, fantastic sense of adventure and wonder. Forced into a life of drudgery by his evil aunts Sponge and Spiker (Margolyes and Lumley), orphan James dreams of escape to New York. An old man (Postlethwaite) appears and gives the boy a jigging handful of fluorescent, magical crocodile tongues. A dead peach tree bears a gigantic fruit, and diving Alice-like into its core, James enters a world of strange invertebrates. As his wishes take flight, so does the peach, putting to sea and soaring up in the air, hauled majestically by a flock of tethered sea-gulls. The songs and music have the inimitable signature of Randy Newman.
Cast and crew