Full-bodied animation and a handful of pleasant tunes by Michel Legrand and Sheldon Harnick make this Disneyesque approach to Isaac Bashevis Singer's "Stories for Children" a moderately enjoyable kidpic. But youngsters weaned on the over-the-top antics of Saturday morning cartoons may resist the gentle comedy of "Aaron's Magic Village."

Full-bodied animation and a handful of pleasant tunes by Michel Legrand and Sheldon Harnick make this Disneyesque approach to Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “Stories for Children” a moderately enjoyable kidpic. But youngsters weaned on the over-the-top antics of Saturday morning cartoons may resist the gentle comedy of “Aaron’s Magic Village.” Appeal will likely be limited to younger tots; theatrical life is likely to be extremely brief. Public television, where director Albert Hanan Kaminski’s shorts have been featured on “Sesame Street,” seems a natural destination.

Fade-in finds the Almighty dispatching three winged messengers to distribute intelligence, wisdom and — for balance — foolishness throughout his newly created world. But one of the cherubs accidentally drops all the foolishness on the tiny hamlet of Chelm.

It’s to this town, where even the wise men are clueless, that a recently orphaned boy named Aaron is sent to live with his kindly but pea-brained uncle. Not surprisingly, when the village is threatened with destruction by an evil sorcerer and his monster, it falls to Aaron and his faithful goat, Zlateh, to save the day.

Pic’s animation is ambitious, though somewhat uneven. Backgrounds are detailed and richly rendered, while lead characters are cruder, their movements slightly jumpy. For one scene, in which the monster wreaks havoc on the village, the film switches distractingly to 3-D computer animation. But details such as these aren’t likely to bother the 5-and-under crowd.

Non-Jewish auds may be confused by the narration’s generous use of common Yiddish words (pic was originally titled “The Real Schlemiel”), which detracts unnecessarily from the otherwise universal storyline.

Aaron's Magic Village

German-French-Israeli

Production

An Avalanche (division of CFP) release of a Benousilio-Volke production in association with Columbia TriStar Home Video. Produced by Dora Benousilio, Peter Volke. Directed by Albert Hanan Kaminski. Screenplay, Kaminski, Jacqueline Galia Benousilio, based on the short fiction collection "Stories for Children" by Isaac Bashevis Singer.

Crew

Music, Michel Legrand; lyrics, Sheldon Harnick. Reviewed at the Cineplex Odeon Beverly Center, L.A., Sept. 13, 1997. MPAA Rating: G. Running time: 80 min.

With

Narrator - Fyvush Finkel
Aaron - Tommy Michaels
Aunt Sarah/Zlateh the Goat/ Matchmaker - Tovah Feldshuh
Uncle Shlemiel - Ronn Carroll
Gronam Ox - Harry Goz
The Lantuch - Ivy Austin
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