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The Boston Globe


Movie Review

Fairy tales in French animation

Graphic arts grad students and young fans of multi-culti fairy tales are the most likely audiences for “Tales of the Night,” the new — and somewhat disappointing — animated wonder from French visionary Michel Ocelot. Ocelot was last seen in these parts with 2006’s “Azur & Asmar,” a story of young princely frenemies that had the stately dazzle of an illuminated manuscript. “Tales,” which (as the title suggests) is an “Arabian Nights”-style omnibus, has similarly eye-bending backgrounds but a creatively monochromatic foreground that comes to feel like a limitation.

In an abandoned cinema in an unnamed city, a teenage boy and girl join with an aging narrator to write and direct original stories set in different countries and historical eras. There’s a touch of the old “Mr. Peabody” cartoons to the setup, with a magic costume gizmo that zaps the two kids with appropriate clothes and hairstyles before sending them back in the Wayback Machine of their imaginations.

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