Belgian author Gabrielle Vincent created the original series of Ernest & Celestine children's books. gkids.tv
Opens Fri., March 28 at Seven Gables. Rated PG. 80 minutes.
Can mice and bears be friends? NO THEY CANNOT—which is the one thing the denizens of the above-ground bear city and the subterranean, Borrowers-style mouse city agree on in this French/Belgian nominee for the 2013 Best Animated Feature Oscar. The two are linked by mutual fear and a weirdly interdependent dental-based economy too fancifully complex to go into here. (Mice and bears, that is, not France and Belgium.) But independent-minded and (consequently) lonely Celestine, who lives in a mouse orphanage and likes to draw, isn’t afraid of bears, shocking everyone. She befriends Ernest, a grumpy and none-too-successful busker, and the two outlaws (after raiding a confectioner’s) settle down in Ernest’s cabin. The pair’s final peril, after the Bear Police and Rat Police finally catch up with them, is scary enough for kids to enjoy, but not too scary to freak out parents. The masterful animation, sketchy and watercolory in a way that reminded me a bit of William Steig’s illustrations (CDB! ), hits its peak of adorableness early with a mass mouse pillow fight, though a lot of what comes after comes close.