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Creative, colorful, and unexpectedly wise, “The Painting” is the latest offshore animation to show to kids burned out on computer-generated Hollywood toons. Most of the action takes place inside a dusty artwork hanging on a studio wall, a landscape full of squabbling painted people finished, half-finished, and sketchy.
Three of these characters leave the frame to find the Painter and ask him why he left his work unfinished, and their adventure turns into a classic quest tale with large philosophical ideas hovering gracefully in the background. Director Jean-Francois Laguionie’s film has been given a solid English dub, and the dazzling visuals recall the work of Chagall, Matisse, Munch, and other early Modernists. It’s a story to stand next to children’s classics like “The Phantom Tollbooth.”