Writer-director Michel Gondry mashes up a coming-of-age story and a road movie by sending his titular pair (the first is small enough for his age to be mistaken for a girl, while the second smells of his time spent tinkering with old engines) off through the French countryside in a homemade house-on-wheels powered by a two-stroke engine. (So it’s legal — sort of.) The artistic Microbe is the more miserable — besides being deeply self-conscious, he’s in love (also lust) — but it’s the mechanical-minded new kid Gasoline who has the real problems: a former junkie of a brother off in the army, a terminally ill and congenitally nasty mom, and a father with no use for a son except to run errands. Still, he serves as the cheerful dispenser of adolescent wisdom for his mopey companion, until their journey takes a hard turn into unpleasant reality and the need to grow up a little sets in. Just a little, mind you — before and after, Gondry conveys a feeling of happy fantasy: two against the world, managing despite everything. (2015) — Matthew Lickona
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