By Michael Sauter
Updated October 18, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

Stop-motion animation has rarely been as enchanting as it is in this dark-toned adaptation of Roald Dahl’s fairy tale, produced by Tim Burton and directed by Henry Selick (Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas). Though James and the Giant Peach starts out in live action — the better to tell the Dickensian story of orphaned James (Paul Terry) and his ghastly aunts — the movie soon escapes into an animated dreamworld where James flies over the ocean on a giant peach, accompanied by boy-size talking bugs. Alternating between the exhilaratingly scary (an armor-plated shark) and the just plain exhilarating (a flock of seagulls towing the giant peach across a starlit sky), this adventure bears repeat viewings for its imagery alone. But this is more than just another kids’ video collectible. James’ transporting magic makes it a bona fide classic. A

James and the Giant Peach

  • Movie
  • PG
  • 79 minutes
  • Henry Selick