"Every frame is suffused with a fireplace kind of warmth that, for me at least, cast an immediate spell that didn't let up." - Glenn Kenny.
"There is something Dahlesque (and more than a little Dickensian) about the film's rude and rowdy temperament, while the subtle hand-drawn artwork brings to mind Cosgrove Hall's wonderful BFG TV movie from 1989." - Guardian.
Its an example of mature and refreshingly pleasurable storytelling when you compare it against superficial American animation films filled with hi-tech shiny distractions. The story may not be revolutionary or ambitious but it is simple, graceful, delicate and never simplistic. Its good old-fashioned storytelling drawn in soft pastel watercolours like a storybook illustration. The charming voice over is another plus.
Its about an unlikely friendship between a big, poor, hungry bear street-musician and a young, sensitive and quick-witted mouse who wants to draw rather than learning dentistry. They come from separated societies who have culturally been against each other. This film is about the challenges of keeping that forbidden friendship even as it disturbs the established order of the day. It's essentially a parable about racism.
"The mice live in a highly regimented, subterranean world where their whole culture revolves around the procurement of teeth and the terror of bears. The bears, on the other hand, live in a decadent, free-market world where their opportunities seem limitless — if they're not poor like Ernest, that is. But they, too, are in a few unforgiving cycles of their own. At one point, a well-to-do family of bears sits around their dining table in their extravagant home and mull how dad owns the aforementioned candy shop and mom owns the tooth store: One rots the teeth, while the other replaces them, all at a cost. One society is remorselessly transactional, while the other is Spartan and intolerant; each exploits the other, even as they hover suspended in a kind of Cold War." (Bilge Ebiri)
"Yet there’s also the distinct suggestion that society smothers creative passion out of individuals. All Celestine wants to do is draw, yet she’s forced to collect teeth. Ernest makes so little money as a musician that he’s forced to rob a candy store. Where do these artistic types fit in if they’re not inherently interested in the dental or tooth-decaying businesses? The answer is the woods, a place removed from cultural norms where a bear and mouse can set up house together." (Beth Hanna Thompson)