out of Five
Running time: 88
Beautifully animated with impressive background work, likeable characters and a couple of catchy songs, this is an enjoyable and frequently charming family adventure that should appeal to both adults and children, though the 3D is entirely unnecessary and the plot loses direction in the second half.
What's it all about?
Directed by Bebo Bergeron, A Monster in Paris is a French animated adventure that's been successfully redubbed for the English-speaking market. Set in recently flooded 1910 Paris (a real-life newsreel opens the film), it stars Adam Goldberg and Jay Harrington as manic deliveryman Raoul and shy projectionist Emile, who accidentally create a giant flea when they mess around with potions in the lab of a reclusive scientist (and his flashcard-toting pet monkey, Charles).
Escaping through the roof of the lab, the flea (Sean Lennon) terrorises Paris before being taken in by feisty singer – and the girl of Raoul's dreams - Lucille (Vanessa Paradis) after she hears his beautiful singing voice. Naming him Francoeur and disguising him in a mask, hat and long flowing coat, Lucille introduces the monster on stage as a singing, dancing and guitar-playing sensation, though trouble is in store when scheming Commissioner Maynott (Danny Huston) decides to capture the monster for his own political ends.
The colourful animation is utterly gorgeous throughout, with extremely impressive background work and strong attention to detail that really captures early 20th century Paris. Similarly, the character designs are appealing and the voice work is excellent, particularly from Paradis, Goldberg and Huston (although the English dub lacks Francois Cluzet's Chirac impression).
On top of that, there are a couple of catchy songs and the central guitar-playing song and dance number is genuinely delightful. In addition, there are some nice touches for film fans, such as some enjoyable references to things like The Fly, King Kong, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera.
The main problem with the film is that the plot is slightly weak and lacks direction in the second half, settling for a half-hearted chase sequence instead of something more dramatic or engaging. Similarly, the 3D is entirely superfluous and the film commits the cardinal sin of under-using its comedy monkey.
Despite its flaws, A Monster in Paris is an entertaining and frequently charming animated adventure that succeeds thanks to likeable characters, catchy songs, a handful of nice ideas and some gorgeous animation. Worth seeing.