From the inimitable Bibo Bergeron comes the latest animated feature just in time for the school holidays. Responsible for the 2004 hit with the kids Shark Tale, Bergeron this time brings us a film produced in his native France, and a beautiful love letter to that effervescent city where magic happens; Paris.
It is 1910, and stock footage tells us that we are in the midst of the flooding of the River Seine. People get around by boat, the Eiffel Tower stands aloof and all but abandoned, and life goes on as usual in the streets of Montmartre. Enter Emile (Jay Harrington), an unlikely hero and a shy cinema projectionist with a crush on his ticket-selling, cinema-collaborator, Maud (Madeline Zima). He is encouraged in his pursuit of love by his uniquely inventive and eccentric friend Raoul (Adam Goldberg), and thus we have the makings of a quirky French film with an animated twist. Until Raoul kidnaps Emile and his newly acquired camera and explores the laboratory-jungle-warehouse of the professor, for whom he is the delivery guy.
After much touching of what should not be touched, and mixing of chemicals that should not be mixed, an explosion occurs and a humble flea is transformed into a 7 foot monster who, according to the accounts of the press and the exaggerating of city commissioner Maynott (Danny Huston), begins terrorizing the people of Paris. Maynott wishes to hunt down the monster and destroy him, restoring the faith of the Parisian in his ability to handle any situation, and diverting from his lack of action at the flooding. Enter Lucille (Vanessa Paradis), a divine show singer who finds a disheveled monster, hears him sing, names him Francoeur, and takes him under her wing.
It sounds complicated but really it’s charming. What we have in A Monster in Paris is a quaint French film with strongly defined characters, excellent vocal performances from French locals and some familiar faces (or voices), as well as the divine singing of Sean Lennon as Francoeur. The animation is divine, painting a mesmerizing portrait of a beautiful and extraordinarily recognizable city, I think children and parents will both enjoy this film as both generations have never done before. I especially loved small asides to the visual humour of Jacques Tati and the animating legacy of Sylvain Chomet.
A Monster in Paris is in Australian cinemas from 20 September through Madman Films.