James and the Giant Peach (1996)

james and the giant peach poster 1996 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Nice family movie

Good but not great

Movie Info

Movie Name:  James and the Giant Peach

Studio:  Walt Disney Pictures

Genre(s):  Animated/Action/Adventure/Musical/Family

Release Date(s):  April 12, 1996

MPAA Rating:  PG


You had one job, James…protect the magic crocodile tongues and you blew it…You don’t deserve to fly to NYC on a magic peach!!!

James (Paul Terry) has led a hard life.  His parents were killed by a runaway rhino from the zoo and he finds himself in a life of servitude to his cruel aunts Sponge (Miriam Margolyes) and Spiker (Joanna Lumley).  When a mysterious man (Pete Postlethwaite) comes to James with fabulous pills that could change James’ destiny, James sees a future quickly shattered by the loss of the pills…but the loss of the pills is just the beginning of a grand adventure that will see James literally soar to new heights and meet new (and unusual) friends.

Directed by Henry Selick, James and the Giant Peach is a children’s movie that combines live action and stop motion animation.  The movie adapts the classic 1961 novel by Roald Dahl.  The movie received positive reviews but a so-so reception at the box office.  It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music—Original Musical or Comedy Score.


Honestly I would have have killed all of you last week if I saw you.

James and the Giant Peach was one of the classic novels of my childhood.  Even more than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I can remember James and the Giant Peach being read to me as a child and loving it.  When the movie was announced, I went and saw it in the theater (despite not being a “kid”).  It was a nice adaptation, but it couldn’t live up to the magic of my memories.

The story is pretty faithful to the source material.  The movie maintains that dark tone that Dahl was a master of and is allowed to be scary while still being a children’s film.  It is a tricky slope, but the movie does keep it.  I also remember as a child questioning more how the kids could get off the Empire State Building at the end…and it stressed me out then and it stresses me out now.


I can buy a magical flying peach and giant insects and spiders, but how are they going to get this peach down? Realism shatter…

The movie predominately utilizes voice actors.  The movie switches to claymation about twenty minutes into the film and the lead actor Paul Terry becomes animated (only to return to human form in the end).  He is joined by Miriam Margoyles, Joanna Lumley, and Pete Postlethwaite as real life actors with Simon Callow, Richard Dreyfuss, Jane Leeves, Susan Sarandon, and David Thewlis providing the voices of Grasshopper, Centipede, Ladybug, Spider, and Earthworm with Miriam Margolyes doing double duty as Glowworm.

The movie is produced by Tim Burton and borrows from his animated films like The Nightmare Before Christmas.  It works for Dahl’s look but it also feels a bit tired now with so many of the movies emulating the style since The Nightmare Before Christmas’s release.  It isn’t necessarily fair to James and the Giant Peach, but it doesn’t feel entirely original.

James and the Giant Peach is a good movie, but it seems a bit forgotten in the world of animated features.  The movie almost doesn’t feel large enough now.  I could see James and the Giant Peach up for a remake as a result.  I hope instead that this movie garners more fans and that people might enjoy the book instead, but I doubt it.

Related Links:

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

The Witches (1990)

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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