While the rest of us struggle to teach our parents how to use Zoom, Oscar-winning New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi has taken the humble video call to dizzying heights, linking up with some of his “special friends” to read Roald Dahl.
And when he says special friends, he really means celebrities.
Across 10 episodes, Taika and “a few mates” read beloved 1961 Roald Dahl classic James and the Giant Peach, in a series called James and the Giant Peach with Taika & Friends.
“Don’t do your own accents, make an effort,” Waititi tells his stars in the trailer, and they do not disappoint.
In the first episode Taika is joined by Nick Kroll and two of the Hemsworth brothers, Chris and Liam, complete with home-made sound effects, critical commentary and fits of laughter.
Meryl Streep and Benedict Cumberbatch bring whimsy and delight to the second episode, taking over the roles of wicked sisters Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker.
The rest of the cast will include Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong’o, Olivia Wilde, Beanie Feldstein, Ruth Wilson, Mindy Kaling, Josh Gad, Archie Yates, Cynthia Erivo, Eddie Redmayne and Gordon Ramsay.
OY! I’m hosting a reading series of James and the Giant Peach by @roald_dahl to raise money for @partnersinhealth, a global health non-profit fighting COVID-19. I’m also joined by a few mates along the way. Go to https://t.co/4LTfNltYEn for the 1st two episodes. #taikaandfriends pic.twitter.com/VGq7DnCYvM
— Taika Waititi (@TaikaWaititi) May 18, 2020
With banter as good as the story itself, parents will enjoy watching with their children.
And if you all need a break from screen time, close your eyes and be transported.
Heck, why not call the grandparents and watch them as a responsibly socially distanced family?
Children’s stories provide a great escape from lockdown boredom, and the grand adventure of orphan James is brimming with excitement.
It’s a “wacky, wonderful tale” about “resilience in children, triumph over adversity and dealing with a sense of isolation” said Waititi.
Very fitting under the circumstances.
The first two instalments are available on the Roald Dahl YouTube channel, with new episodes arriving three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Raising funds for charitable organisation Partners in Health, founded by Ophelia Dahl, each episode gives the audience an opportunity to donate, helping vulnerable communities around the world to fight COVID-19.
The Roald Dahl foundation will match all donations made.