Amelie
***.5 GM
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Dominique Pinon, Isabelle Nanty, Lorella Cravotta

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How splendidly delightful!

If you're looking for a magical journey for the mischievous merry-maker in all of us, then the lovely, wide-eyed Amelie will steal your heart and warm your soul!

Well, that's how I think we're all supposed to react to this film, and before I go off on a Princess Diaries style sarcasm festival, I'll note that I actually came pretty close to that reaction. It's a beautiful, inspired film that's got some serious funny in it.

It's the story of a lonely young girl growing up without friends due to well-meaning but accidentally overprotective parents, thus fostering a difficulty with socializing and a debatably overactive imagination. When she finds a box of old toys and stuff hidden inside her apartment from decades ago, she sets out to return the box to its owner, and when she witnesses how touched he is by seeing all this, she decides to go around doing other benevolent deeds for people, and at the same time, she gets the screamin' thigh sweats for this weird dude what likes to dig under instant photo booths for picture scraps.

Like "The City of Lost Children" and "Delicatessen" before it, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has put together an intriguing visual feast, replete with well-used special effects, vivid colors and funky shots. Did I mention it was pretty doggone funny, too? Dominique Pinon is amusing and ridiculous as the stalker boyfriend of one of Amelie's co-workers, and Amelie herself is an outlandish trickster whose elaborate schemes never cease to be involving.

It also includes the instant classic insult: "Somebody pissed in his mother!" That was hilarious and deeply disturbing at the same time.

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