An enterprising ragamuffin (newcomer Kyle Catlett) from Montana (by way of the director’s The City of Lost Children) takes a road trip. Destination: the lost District of Columbia for a Smithsonian gala in his honor. A halcyon maze, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s shrewdly sweet-tempered surreal fantasyland is an eyegasmic saturnalia of expressive color, orchestrated adventure, doubling-images, and, in select markets (not ours!), eyeball rolfing 3D. Clearly based on a bestseller, the breeze of turning pages can’t compete with a director madly fanning audiences with as many novel approaches to visual storytelling (most of which triumph) as possible. (A generic talk show spoof lands with a thud.) As fine an example as any of a film that uses CGI to advance its narrative, not define it, one that inspires imagination rather than allowing technology to spell it out for you. By all means, bring the kids! With strong support from the ever-inviting Helena Bonham Carter and a nasty Judy Davis as dueling mother figures. (2013) — Scott Marks
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