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Ernest & Celestine
z z (PG)
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BY RAFER GUZMN
rafer.guzman@newsday.com

T
heres a Belgian food product called speculoos thats
been making inroads into American cuisine lately.
The ingredients are familiar, but the overall flavor
can be puzzling: Is it gingery, caramelly, egg-noggy? For
Yanks with an average palate, its tough to say.
Another Belgian export, the animated film Ernest &
Celestine, is a bit like speculoos: slightly sweet and
rather strange. Based on characters created by the author-
illustrator Gabrielle Vincent, Ernest & Celestine has
been well received stateside and was nominated for an
Academy Award. This is one childrens movie, though,
that is definitely a matter of taste.
Its heroes are a plucky
mouse, Celestine (the voice of
PLOT A little Mackenzie Foy), and a
mouse and a mas- grouchy bear, Ernest (Forest
sive bear form an Whitaker), who overcome
unlikely friendship. natural enmity and social
CAST Forest Whi- prejudice to become friends.

DISNEY
taker, Mackenzie Thats a solid, timeless story,
Foy, William H. but it gets utterly lost in a
Macy jumble of ideas, themes and Kermit the frog (or a look-alike?) and Ricky Gervais. Kidsday review, B33 ] Video:
narrative fragments. newsday.com/movies
LENGTH 1:20 For starters, Celestine is an
PLAYING AT Man-
hasset Cinemas
orphan (listen for Lauren
Bacall as a ranting head- z z z (PG) PLOT The
mistress) who likes to draw Muppets

MUPPETS
BOTTOM LINE bears. This is odd, since all tour
Delicate animation mouse citizens live in constant Europe, but
and a charming mortal terror of bears. Even with
score may be why odder, Celestine works for the Kermits
this Belgian film towns Head Dentist (William criminal

MOST WANTED
earned an Oscar H. Macy), who forces her to look-alike.
nomination. Its collect loose incisors from
story, however, CAST The
bear cubs. On assignment she Muppets,
makes no sense befriends Ernest, a musically
whatsoever. Ricky
talented hobo with an unattrac- Gervais,
tive temper. When their rela-
tionship is discovered, mouse
Kermits in jail and a fibbin man, however, for Constantine, the most
dangerous frog in the world, a Kermit
Ty Burrell,
Tina Fey
and bear go on the lam, then hole up in a secluded cabin
an idyllic, almost romantic lull that proves short-lived.
amphibians on the loose! doppelganger whos escaped a Siberian
gulag. Before you can say Pigs in Space, LENGTH
Two of the movies three directors are the creators of
A Town Called Panic (2009), an almost insanely inven-
Come on, guys, hop to it Kermits in prison, Dominic is managing a
Muppet Show tour of Europe, and institu-
1:53
PLAYING
tive stop-motion spectacle, and their inability to self-edit tions next door to their venues are getting AT Area
may once again be the problem. Their notions of whimsy BY FRANK LOVECE broken into and robbed, despite suspicions theaters
more often resemble nonsense, and the movie is padded Special to Newsday from an Interpol investigator (Ty Burrell)
with random digressions even at a scant 80 minutes. and a CIA operative (Sam the Eagle). BOTTOM

H
(French novelist Daniel Pennac wrote the script.) The alf of Muppets Most Wanted is a Kermit has his own hands well, LINE If you
delicate, hand-drawn animation and watercolor back- prison movie, like The Great webbed feet full trying to cope with liked The
grounds are impressive but also strangely muted tans, Escape or Toy Story 3. The prison life. Fortunately, guard Nadya (Tina Muppet
grays, browns, a bit of pale pink in Celestines little cape. other half is a caper movie, like Fey) has ordered him to direct the annual Show,
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The one bright spot is Vincent Courtois winsome, Rififi, the 1955 crime classic gulag musical revue. And you havent lived youll like
breezy, strolling-the-boulevard score. It has a warmth whose title even sounds like the name of a until youve seen Ray Liotta of Good- this Mup-
and charm that the movie itself is too scattered to muster. Muppet. And somehow, these interweaving Fellas, Danny Trejo of Machete and pet show.
halves mesh funnily enough that this sequel assorted other tough guys doing I Hope I
to 2011s The Muppets seems a rightful Get It from A Chorus Line.
heir to the studiedly wacky 1976-81 TV All that and a rainbow collection of
NEWSDAY, FRIDAY, MARCH 21, 2014

series The Muppet Show. If theres any- cameos make for safely anarchic fun. The
one here who doesnt like a mlange of songs unfortunately are undistinguished,
puns, slapstick, meta humor, the occasional and Burrells too-exaggerated French
out-of-left-field intellectual joke (its not the accent lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. So
first time the Muppets have mined Ingmar while it may not be sensational, its still an
Bergmans The Seventh Seal) and repur- inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational
posed vaudeville routines, then fine. More Muppet show.
room for the rest of us. Preceding it is Pixars Party Central,
Following a self-aware opening in which starring the Monsters University duo of
the Muppets realize they need to make a Sulley and Mike (voices of John Goodman
sequel and now must choose what kind, the and Billy Crystal). It starts with a simple
GKIDS

movie introduces the bad guy, Dominic plot idea and escalates in classic comedy
Unlikely pals Celestine the mouse and Ernest the bear. Badguy (Ricky Gervais). Hes just a hench- form.

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