Disney (Wednes)Day: James and the Giant Peach

It’s time to move away from the year 1995 and it’s three theatrical Disney releases and into *drumroll* 1996 where James and the Giant Peach saw the light of day. Now I have never heard of this movie but that hasn’t stopped me before. It’s a combination of live action and stop-motion animation for those of you out there who care and also know what this means. Onto the movie then.

The title segment, which is underlined with drawings of insects for some reason I don’t know but probably to make me go ‘ewww’ informs us that this is an adaption of a Roald Dahl book. I personally have not had a lot of contact with this author as a kid but I guess he is really popular, especially in English speaking countries.

Then it’s time to meet James Henry Trotter, a little boy who lives by the sea with his parents. It’s all very nice and cosy. Everyone is happy. Blergh. Together with his parents, he is looking up at clouds and deciding what they look like. Then his father asks him if he can spot the highest building in the world but James can’t. “Look at it another way” So James does and then he sees the Empire State Building. 2014 is laughing at your highest building but okay. Not the time or the place. They talk about going there soon on vacation.

Something terrible happens next, a rhino takes the life of his parents (because that is the most normal thing to happen, amiright?). So James ends up living with his two disgusting aunts who treat hime like their own personal slave. I do not approve of this.

The aunts find him daydreaming about New York, New York one day and basically destroy every last one of his hopes. Blithering assholes! The movie is playing the sympathy card a bit too much for my liking. Yes, I get it, James’ life is the worst but come on!

In his room, James talks to a spider because that is what you do (apparently) and then he gets out some of his personal belongings from under the floorboards. Now I’m jealous, I always thought floorboards were the coolest shit ever. Needless to say, I never had any. James sings a song because it is Disney and then he draws some stuff, builds a little hot air balloon and then lets it sail out of the window. Now this, I do now fully understand. This boy has nothing so why would he basically just throw out one of his prices belongings?

The next day, the aunts are having a crisis over the spider because apparently we have to service¬†every stupid stereotype. James manages to rescue the spider and tells it to run away because he sure as hell can’t leave his own personal hell. This is the cue for some veteran (?) to appear out of nowhere, asking why he thinks he can’t just leave. Umm, duh! The guy explains some stuff I have already forgotten about. Either way, he has the balloon thing-y but it’s full of green glowing things. James is supposed to take good care of it, blah blah blubb. But of course he trips over his own feet and the green thingies escape. He tries to get them back but then his aunts appear.

Suddenly one of them notices a peach growing on what looks like a very dead tree. This is a huge deal to them and the want to get it. Only, the peach grows and grows because they need a validation for the title of this movie. Oh, brother. Being the businesswomen that they are, the aunts turn the giant peach into a fair and take money.

Sometime later, James fins one of the glow-y things and follows it. He then smells the peach, rips out a part of it to eat and a weird peach portal opens up so naturally the boy climbs into it.

From this moment on, this is a stop-motion animation and James meets some walking talking bugs inside the peach. They sing a song.

The aunts are looking for they slave boy but can obviously not find him. The Centipede cuts the peach’s straw and off it rolls into the ocean. In the middle of the Atlantic, they try to figure out where they are to go. James produces a card from his heart (basically what is happening) and it points to New York, New York. It’s time for another song, I wonder if the bugs are already rehearsing for their broadway debut. *rolls eyes*

Off they go by the help of seagull transportation. Only one seagull isn’t enough since they are under attack by an iron shark. So they get even more seagulls to lift them in the air. I can’t help but wonder how the seagulls know they have to carry that peach to New York, New York.

The next problem is that they are running out of food. After losing their last bit of it, James remembers his parents tip to look at things differently, and so they start eating their flying peach.

Time for another song.

James dreams and then wakes up. Everything is covered in ice and snow. Centipede jumps into the icy ocean because of reasons I don’t know. So naturally James and the spider jump in after him to safe him. Centipede wants to steal the compass from an old pirate ship but those skeletons are giving him a hell of a fight. Thankfully, his friends are there to rescue him.

Cut to the ant playing his violin and James gets sad because this reminds him of his lost family. So they all sing a song about being each others family.

The peach finally arrives in New York, New York but the rhinos appear.

A lot is happening which I did not care enough to actually pay enough attention throughout to recap. I’m sorry but I was really bored by this oh so sad child story. Anyway, James wakes up, coughs up one of the green glow-y things and turns into a real life boy again. He has landed on top of the Empire State Building which he doesn’t recognise because he is literally on top of it.

The New Yorkers go crazy, there is press and everything. A beat up car arrives and it has the aunts in it because obviously, they knew where to go?! I don’t understand this one bit. So the aunts want to take him and the peach back with the. Just how long do they think this peach will last before it goes bad?! Idiots.

James tells the public what cruel people his aunts are but they try to make it sound like he is off his meds. it doesn’t help that he is talking about the bugs as if they were real. AND THEN THEY FALL FROM THE SKY! And every one believes James, the poor deprived city folks get to eating the giant peach and James takes up residence in Central Park where he tells his story over and over.

The end.

Whew. That was…weird. This doesn’t even come close to one of the best recaps ever but I just couldn’t bring myself to care. I’m sorry to those who love this movie but it was just too heavy handed for my taste. The poor, poor boy, and then I’m supposed to accept him flying via peach over the Atlantic? Again, either go full fairy tale on me, or make it realistic. This movie is neither and so I’m sitting here on my train to Nopeville.

It also doesn’t help that I had very different expectations coming into this movie. I didn’t know beforehand that it was half a live action movie and I’m not even sure why it is on the animated movie list. Let’s just say, there is room for debate. At least in my opinion.

This is probably a metaphor laden story that I just didn’t get. Maybe I’m getting too old for this sort of thing, IDK to be honest. It just wasn’t for me.

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  • I’ve never watched the film and I’ve never been tempted to- and I still don’t want to, but I did love the book. It’s one of my favourite Dahl books. I would really suggest reading it (if you haven’t already) because the film sounds like.. well, a pale; pale understanding of the book.


    • Wilhelmina Upton

      Honestly, don’t bother watching the film. Maybe I will read the book at some point. I guess I really should check out some Dahl books, never read any of his.

  • EmilyHornburg

    The thing with Dahl books is that he is REALLY REALLY OVER THE TOP. Like, things are completely ridiculous and unrealistic and you learn to just go with it. So if you’re familiar with his books, when you watch the movies you’re just like “Yup. That’s how it works in this world. Whatevs.” He also did Matilda, The Witches, The BIG, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, etc.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      I saw Willie Wonka and Matilda and they both didn’t seem as crazy as this one. The going between real life movie and animation probably didn’t help because that’s something I don’t much care for.