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Originally published Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 3:02 PM

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Movie review

'Mia and the Migoo' refreshing animated feature

"Mia and the Migoo" is a refreshing if uneven animated adventure that is so visually beautiful you could probably enjoy it with the sound off. Directed by Jacques-Rémy Girerd, the film is dubbed in English and features the voices of Whoopi Goldberg, Wallace Shawn and John DiMaggio. It's playing at Seattle's Metro Theatre.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3 stars

'Mia and the Migoo,' with the voices of John DiMaggio, Whoopi Goldberg, Matthew Modine, Wallace Shawn, James Woods, Amanda Misquez, Vincent Agnello. Directed by Jacques-Rémy Girerd, from a screenplay by Girerd, Benoît Chieux, Antoine Lanciaux and Iouri Tcherenkov. 92 minutes. Rated PG for thematic elements, some peril and brief mild language. Metro.

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"Good luck on your very scary journey," says a witchlike creature, in a businesslike way, to a brave little girl. That pretty much captures the tone of "Mia and the Migoo," a brisk French/Italian (dubbed in English) animated adventure that's a refreshing if uneven change from typical children's multiplex fare.

We first meet young Mia (voiced by Amanda Misquez), whose dark hair shimmers like a satin cloak, at her mother's grave. She is speaking bravely to her lost parent about the quest upon which she's embarking: to find her father, who's working on a faraway construction site and who, Mia feels certain, is in danger. Off she goes, on a journey to the tropics and into a mysterious world of talking forest spirits known as the Migoo.

The film, directed by Jacques-Rémy Girerd, gets off to an undeniably slow start, and kids accustomed to zippy Disney/Pixar action comedy may grow impatient. But even as the pace feels uneven at times, "Mia and the Migoo" is always a pleasure to look at. Rendered in hand-painted animation (a reported 500,000 frames), it displays a meteor shower in dazzling sapphire hues, an upside-down tree that sparkles in watery blues, a green-lit Antarctica sky, and a parade of jewel-toned backgrounds that sparkle like gems in a velvet box. (One off note is struck by the Migoo themselves, who look like an odd, fleshy combination of Sasquatch and the Pillsbury Doughboy.)

The story's serviceable, if unexciting, with themes of child-parent love and the importance of peaceful interactions. ("Fighting never gets you anywhere," we're solemnly reminded.) But you could almost watch this movie with the sound off and be happy, reveling in its brush strokes — some of the scenes feel almost wet, as if fresh from an easel — and joyous riot of color.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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