I begin by extending my deepest apologies to MechDaddy’s childhood friend Dave… who has always been deeply terrified of Giant Peaches… if you, too, have mega-peach-a-phobia… stop reading!
For the rest of us peach lovers: last week, Walt Disney released James and the Giant Peach onto blu-ray and special edition dvd, and we celebrated!
If you haven’t seen this movie, you’re missing out. It is a combination of live action and stop-motion, along with some computer-generated special effects, and it tells the story from the beloved book by Roald Dahl.
If you haven’t read the book… stop RIGHT NOW and read it!
We are huge Roald Dahl fans here. There is something unique about his blend of the gloomy everyday with the amazingly fantastic, with a big serving of the utterly gruesome, that really appeals to kids. We started our week by reading the book out loud, three or four chapters at a time after each meal and again at bedtime. I wasn’t sure that GoGoGirl (3 1/2) was really following along until the second day when she started playing “Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker” with her dolls and including details from the story!
The basics of the story are the same from the book to the movie: young James has been orphaned (after his parents were killed by a rhinoceros!) and now lives with his mean aunts. One night, a creepy old man gives James a bag of magic crocodile tongues, guaranteed to change his life. As James is carrying the bag inside, he trips and all the magic seeps away into the ground.
It is that special crocodile-tongue-magic that turns a mostly-dead peach tree into the home of the world’s largest peach… which turns out to be the home to talking, laughing, adventuring, magically-grown bugs as well – a centipede, a spider, a ladybug, and more become James’s new friends as they set off on an adventure.
As with any book-to-movie translation, some things were changed. In the book, the events that unfold are all accidents of one shape or another; in the movie, James has a strong longing to go to New York and so he and his not-so-little friends are shaping events to try to get there. Other scenes were taken out, added, or changed, and KarateKid (8) and I had a great time talking about what was different and why the movie was changed from a straight adaptation of the book.
We are Tim Burton fans, so we loved his treatment of this movie, along with the great music by Randy Newman, including a fun rendition of “Eating the Peach” – the lyrics were straight from the book.
The day we finished reading the book, before MechDaddy came home for a movie night, we decided to put together a little playset so the kids could keep playing “James.” We took an empty milk jug and painted the inside peach by pouring peach paint inside and swirling it around, then letting it dry upside down. When the paint was dry, we cut away a big panel from the side, and that was our peach! While it was drying, the kids rummaged through toy bins to find toys that could represent James and his friends – the centipede, the ladybug, the spider… we had to use a small white snake toy to be Earthworm!
The kids and I were outside playing when MechDaddy came home, so we had some picnic sandwiches for dinner with dessert of – what else? – fresh peaches! KarateKid decided to make “tunnels” through his peach with a straw. The peaches were juicy and delicious, and we stayed outside eating and playing until dusk. Then, of course, we came inside and snuggled together to watch our new movie!
The special edition blu-ray and dvd combo pack was released last week, on August 3rd. The blu-ray includes a “Spike the Aunt” game to play with your remote that both KarateKid and MechDaddy had fun trying. There are other “extras,” of course, including a music video, stills, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and the original trailer. We had a blast making this movie a week-long event!
This is a Click Communications review. The blu-ray combo pack was provided to me by Walt Disney Home Entertainment for the purposes of this review; we owned our copy of the book. The opinions above are our own and we were not compensated in any other way.