French Anthropomorphic Animal Animated Features, Part 3 – by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Series: French Anthropomorphic Animal Animated Features, Part 1 and Part 2.  There will be four parts.

Continuing from where we left off …

l_2279083_8fbe683dLes As de la Jungle – Operation Banquise, directed by David Alaux and Éric Tosti. 58 minutes. December 31, 2011.

When a band of walruses terrorizes the South Pole, stealing the penguins’ eggs, the penguin brother and sister Ping (Tommy) and Pong travel to the jungle where “the Great Tiger Warrior” lives, to ask him to rescue them. The Great Tiger Warrior is Maurice, a penguin raised and striped like a tiger who believes he is one. Maurice agrees, and summons the rest of the Jungle Aces (the Jungle Bunch): Miguel the poetic tap-dancing gorilla, Fred the singing warthog, Gilbert the tiny paranoid tarsier (the brains of the team), Al & Bob, the two frogs of unknown talents, and last but by no means least, Junior the little tiger fish, Maurice’s adopted son (he travels with Maurice in a fishbowl) and kung-fu expert. On their way to Antarctica, they meet and add Batricia, a bat, to the Aces. Each fights the walruses with his or her own specialty, until the grand finale free-for-all. A children’s feature, for the 6+ age group.

Les As de la Jungle – Operation Banquise (The Jungle Aces – Operation Ice), also titled Les As de la Jungle – le Film, was an original CGI feature following David Alaux & Éric Tosti’s Toulouse-based TAT Productions’ Les As de la Jungle TV series of October 23 – November 4, 2011; 26 1½-minute episodes. It was shown as a TV movie on New Year’s Eve 2012, and released theatrically on April 10, 2013. Les As de la Jungle has been popular enough to return as Les As de la Jungle – A la Rescousse (The Jungle Bunch – To the Rescue) in 11-minute TV episodes from December 29, 2013. The movie has been sold as a theatrical or DVD feature to over 150 countries. In the U.S., the feature is a DVD as The Jungle Bunch: The Movie, with John Lithgow voicing Maurice. The movie won the Procirep French TV producers’ award in the animation category; the Audience Awards at the 7th Animpact Max (November 28 – December 2) in Seoul, South Korea and the LUCAS International Children’s Film Festival in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany; and the 2013 Kidscreen Award in New York; and was nominated for a 2014 Emmy.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 12.54.49 AMCendrillon au Far West (Cinderella: Once Upon a Time in the West), directed by Pascal Hérold. 81 minutes. July 25, 2012.

A funny-animal CGI Western. Cinderella is a spunky pigtailed deer cowgirl in a Wild West town besieged by Barbazul the gorilla pirate captain, and his men on giant vultures, from their galleon stranded in the desert. She is made to scrub floors by Felicity (fat dog), her wicked stepmother and the town boss, and Harmony and Melody, her two ugly daughters.

One day the town is visited by Russian Prince Vladimir (spaniel) and his mother, the Grand Dutchess (turkey). Felicity throws a big dance for the Prince in the saloon, hoping that he’ll marry one of her daughters, while Barbazul plans to kidnap the Grand Dutchess for her jewels. Cinderella is naturally not invited, but with the magic help of Little Cloud, the prairie dog medicine man, she attends as a masked beauty until the desert coyotes howl twelve times. But when Barbazul succeeds in kidnapping the Grand Dutchess, Prince Vladimir and Cinderella ride to the rescue. All the critics compared it to the American Rango, of course.

220px-Sammy's_Adventures_2Sammy 2 (A Turtle’s Tale 2: Sammy’s Escape from Paradise), directed by Ben Stasson. 93 minutes. August 15, 2012.

Sammy (green turtle) and Ray (leatherback turtle), now grandparents, are helping the newly-hatched sea turtles on a Pacific atoll escape to the sea without being eaten by seagulls, when they are caught by human poachers and sold to The Tank, a huge palatial aquarium in Dubai with its obsequious Arab manager. It’s easy living, except that the Arab princes and super-rich American and European tourists can choose the sea life in the aquarium to be cooked for their dinner. Sammy and Ray try to escape with the help of Jimbo the blob fish, Manuel and Consuelo the hogfish, Lulu the lobster, Ciulia the snowcrab, a family of penguins, and others; but they are co-opted by Big D the tiny seahorse (with Marco and Philippe, his two huge moray eel goons), who is determined that HIS escape plan will be the ONLY escape plan. When Sammy and Ray realize that Big D’s plan is a fake, and that he is really only interested in keeping himself the leader of the aquarium’s sealife (the tiny seahorse doesn’t have to worry about being chosen for dinner), they resolve to escape despite him. Meanwhile Ella and Ricky, the baby turtles from the atoll, try to rescue their grandparents with the help of Annabel the pink octopus and her daughter Margaret.

Sammy 2 was also shown as Sammy’s Escape. There are many musical numbers, some sung by the characters and some as entertainment in the ritzy aquarium. Another European theatrical feature that went directly to a kids’ DVD in the U.S.

Ernest et Célestine, directed by Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner. 79 minutes. December 12, 2012.

MV5BMjA3NzA5ODY4M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzU5ODMwMTE@._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_In a world where the bears live Up Above and the mice live Down Below and everyone is obsessed with teeth, Célestine is a young mouse orphan. La Grise (the Gray One), the old mouse head of the orphanage, terrorizes the mouse orphans with stories of how the Big Bad Bear eats mice. But Célestine doesn’t see why a mouse and bear can’t be friends. Célestine likes to draw, but she is expected to become a dentist like all mice and is assigned to go up into the bear world and look for cubs’ teeth under their pillows. She searches in the home of Georges and Lucienne, who live above Georges’ “Le Roi du Sucre” candy store. Their young son Léon wants to eat candy, but his parents won’t let him; it’s bad for his teeth. Lucienne sells false teeth to bears who have eaten too much candy. Célestine is discovered in their home and Georges chases her into an outdoor trash can where she is trapped for the night. Ernest, a down-on-his-luck bear street-musician, finds her while he is raiding trash cans and is about to eat her. She persuades him to break into the candy store’s cellar and gorge himself on sweets instead. Georges find them, and they escape with armloads of candy while Georges calls the bear police. Ernest takes all the food home to his forest hut, but when Célestine follows him, he tries to get rid of her. “But a bear and a mouse, it’s just not …” Célestine, who does not want to return to the mouse orphanage, refuses to be shaken off. The two slowly develop a true friendship. When Ernest finally takes her home to the mouse world under the Bears’ streets, his presence causes a mouse panic and the mouse police chase them both back topside. They return to live together in Ernest’s hut, but now the bear police are after them both. “We will not rest until Ernest and Célestine are found!” Both are individually caught and tried in traditional European courts, before stern robed and bewigged bear and rat judges, but last-minute events save the two. They are released to resume their friendship, with hints that the bears and mice may rethink their traditional fear of each other.

Ernest et Célestine, based on the series of children’s picture books by Belgian author Gabrielle Vincent, won the 2013 César Award for Best Animated Film, and won or was nominated for awards at international animation film festivals around the world. In America, it was nominated for the Best Animated Feature Academy Award and for the Annie Award in six categories. It was the first animated feature to win the Magritte Award (for Belgian films) for Best Film. It got a 98% “fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The all-star American voice cast included Lauren Bacall as La Grise, her final role before her death.  (Movie website.)

Next: Part 4.

– Fred Patten,