3D-animated A Monster in Paris, directed by Bibo Bergeron (Shark Tale) and produced by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element), has an eccentric style, giving us a very different kind of children’s movie that should not be missed.
3D-animated A Monster
in Paris, directed by Bibo Bergeron (Shark Tale) and produced by Luc Besson
(The Fifth Element), has an eccentric style, giving us a very different kind of
children’s movie that should not be missed.
In Paris during the great flood of 1910, timid movie
projectionist, Emile (Jay Harrington)
and his loud and crazy inventor friend, Raoul (Adam Goldberg), inadvertently cause an explosion in a scientist’s
lab, accidentally creating a monster.
This ‘monster’ is actually a flea, enlarged to the proportions of a
giant and Emile and Raoul become embroiled in a hunt through the streets of
Paris to find this monster that is striking fear into the hearts of Parisian
citizens. Enter Lucille (Vanessa Paradis), a sweet and
child-like cabaret star who finds the monster, takes pity on him and names him
Francoeur. As she discovers,
Francoeur has a sweet innocence and a unique and incredible musical talent, so
in disguise, he becomes her backing singer as they rise to stardom. In the meantime the hunt for the
monster continues, led by ruthless villain, Police Commissioner Maynott (Danny Huston) and Emile, Raoul and
Lucille must unite to save him.
The film is a nod to vintage cinema in very much the same
way as Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, but it also looks to the
Post-Impressionist art movement and the Parisian entertainment of the time in
which it was based. It would
appear that the styling of Franceour has been loosely based on the Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec paintings of
French cabaret singer, comedian and nightclub owner, Aristide Bruant. One
of Franceour’s outfits is almost a replica of one such painting, with the
sweeping red scarf and large, black hat.
Indeed Lautrec himself was a French aristocrat known for his depiction
of Parisian entertainers, in particular the café-concerts and cabaret clubs in
Montmartre. It is one such
club that provides the setting for much of the film, amongst many other
delightful Parisian backdrops.
A Monster in Paris will be popular with adults and children
alike, particularly with the comedy.
It maintains aspects of the children’s genre of today with its quirky
animation similar to the likes of The
Incredibles and Despicable Me
and the incorporation of cute little love stories, spindly-legged characters, a
villain and a loveable hero.
However, this film also separates itself from the stereotypical
children’s genre. It is
delightfully bizarre – there are moments when you forget you are watching a
children’s movie as what is on screen is like something you would imagine in a
dream. The music (composed by Matthieu Chedid) is very distinctive
and really likeable, with the sweet voice of Vanessa Paradis against the subtle
tones of Sean Lennon as Francoeur. It is very amusing to watch over-sized Francoeur
and his tiny guitar with little Lucille dancing around on stage. There is also a particularly poignant moment
when Francoeur sits hunched in an alley in the rain. We hear his singing voice for the first time as he sings the
story of his transformation into a ‘monster.’ He is full of melancholy as the feared outsider and in this
sense the film has more than a passing reference to The Phantom of the Opera, The
Hunchback of Notre Dame,
Frankenstein and even King Kong. The ‘monster hunt’ part of the plot does drag out a little
but does not detract too much from the rest of the story.
All in all, it is refreshing to see a children’s film that
is so original. Unique and full of
charm, A Monster in Paris is one to watch.