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‘Ernest & Celestine’ enchantingly animated

‘Ernest & Celestine” is about a bear (Ernest, above) and his unlikely friendship with a mouse (Celestine, below with Ernest).
‘Ernest & Celestine” is about a bear (Ernest, above) and his unlikely friendship with a mouse (Celestine, below with Ernest).PHOTOS By Les Armateurs-Studiocanal/AP

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In the enchanted watercolor universe of “Ernest & Celestine,” the world is divided into mice and bears. The bears live aboveground in a bourgeois French village and the mice live below in a subterranean society. Everyone knows his or her place except for Ernest, bear, and Celestine, mouse. He’s a happily shiftless street performer, the grasshopper to the other bears’, um, ants. She’s a daydreaming artist out of her element in her “Madeline”-style boarding school. Neither fits in with anyone else, so why not with each other?

Based on a children’s book series by the Belgian writer-illustrator Gabrielle Vincent, “Ernest & Celestine” is a Gallic delight, both a recent Oscar nominee (it lost to “Frozen”) and winner of France’s César for best animated film. It moves with the rhythms and emotions of classic kids’ literature, possesses elegance and belly laughs in equal measure, and is almost magically beautiful to look at. And, like bears, it has bite. You, your 5-year-old, and your hipster teenager will all find something to love here.

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