Wednesday, October 4, 2023


THE STORY – Ernest and Celestine return to Ernest’s land, Charabia, to repair his precious violin. They discover that music has been banned all over the country for several years. Ernest and Celestine are joined by new friends, including a mysterious masked avenger, to try to right this injustice and bring joy back to the land of the bears.

THE CAST – Lambert Wilson, Pauline Brunner, Michel Lerousseau, Céline Ronté, Lévanah Solomon & Jean-Marc Pannetier

THE TEAM – Julien Chheng, Jean-Christophe Roger (Directors), Guillaume Mautalent & Sébastien Oursel (Writers)


The 2012 film “Ernest & Celestine” is a charming French-Belgian animated movie about the unexpected bond that forms between a bear named Ernest and a mouse named Celestine. It likely caught most American filmgoers’ attention when it was nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Although it lost that award to the Disney mega-blockbuster “Frozen,” it’s maintained a solid reputation as an unassuming film with surprising depth. Now, over a decade later, the lovable animal pair is back in a new adventure, subtitled “A Trip to Gibberitia.” If the pastoral title suggests another amiable, satisfying adventure, that’s only appropriate. The film is a delightful little romp that, like its predecessor, isn’t afraid to delve into real-world problems, albeit in an appropriately low-stakes manner.

In their latest adventure, the unlikely duo Ernest and Celestine find themselves on an unexpected visit to Ernest’s home country of Gibberitia to fix his broken violin. However, they discover that the land has been overtaken by uncompromising leaders who’ve put in place several ridiculous laws. Most shocking of all, music is essentially banned. The pair of best friends set out to change things and bring happiness and freedom back to Gibberitia.

As with the first film, the animation is beautiful. Made up of enchanting hand-drawn characters, the world of the film is lovely and, for the adults in the audience, sure to be comfortably nostalgic. The colors used are more muted hues, which makes for a gentle, warm watch. The film’s style calls to mind the kinds of sweet picture books that helped many of us drift off to sleep as children.

The previous film evolves to become an unexpectedly pointed look at factors that keep different classes of people (or rather, creatures) separate and unequal. “A Trip to Gibberitia” similarly explores an unfortunately relevant topic. The titular fictional realm is lorded over by a ruling class of bear judges who’ve instituted a series of ridiculous and constricting laws, seemingly for no reason other than to control the populace. This is presented in a silly manner that will come off as merely comical to kids. Still, it’s easy to draw parallels to authoritarian leaders of both yesterday and today who oppress their citizens using restrictions that are antithetical to basic human freedoms. In this case, the bears of the law forbid all music other than the single note of C, leading to inevitably monotone, uncomplicated tunes playing throughout the land. Being a musician, Ernest is particularly enraged to see his homeland enact such ridiculous rules.

Thankfully, he and Celestine find a group of citizens operating as The Musical Resistance. This leads to some delightfully clever sequences where these soldiers, for musical expression, play in underground clubs fitted with fun security devices and occasionally do their best to outmaneuver the police in entertaining chase scenes. Brilliantly, the members of the Musical Resistance wear bird masks – a symbol of the winged inhabitants of Gibberitia who whistle their tunes with abandon, unaware of the laws against tonal variance.

For such a musically focused film, the score is obviously important. Thankfully, composer Vincent Courtois’ compositions are lively and entrancing, keeping the energy of the film buoyant.

“Ernest and Celestine: A Trip to Gibberitia” is a fun little treat that contains surprising insight. Its execution of these themes and the characters’ decisions are very simplistic, which is appropriate for the young audience it’s aiming for. However, it may mean that any accompanying adults will have less to keep them invested. Still, its gentleness is welcome for any filmgoer looking for a pleasant cinematic excursion.


THE GOOD - Warm, charming animation and surprisingly deep themes make this sequel a delightful little cinematic excursion.

THE BAD - Unsurprisingly, given the young audience for which the film is aiming, its story and characters' decisions are presented in a very simple manner that may not grasp the attention of adult viewers.

THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - Best Animated Feature


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Cody Dericks
Cody Dericks
Actor, awards & musical theatre buff. Co-host of the horror film podcast Halloweeners.

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>Warm, charming animation and surprisingly deep themes make this sequel a delightful little cinematic excursion.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>Unsurprisingly, given the young audience for which the film is aiming, its story and characters' decisions are presented in a very simple manner that may not grasp the attention of adult viewers.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b><a href="/oscar-predictions-best-animated-feature/">Best Animated Feature</a><br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>7/10<br><br>"ERNEST AND CELESTINE: A TRIP TO GIBBERITIA"