October 9, 2012

A Cat in Paris (2010)

THE 2012 ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEES for Best Animated Feature were an odd lot. Odd in the sense that they were not another predictable batch of contenders from Pixar and DreamWorks (and maybe a token nominee from a third studio who had no chance of winning).

No, 2012’s nominees included only two from DreamWorks (Puss in Boots and Kung Fu Panda 2) and none from Pixar (thanks to their horrible misfire Cars 2). The remaining nods were given to the Spanish-language Chico & Rita, the deserving winner Rango, and the French film A Cat in Paris.

Co-directed by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol, A Cat in Paris follows the double life of Dino the cat, a family pet by day and assistant to crafty cat burglar Nico (Steve Blum) by night. Dino’s human family – daughter Zoe (Lauren Weintraub) and policewoman mother Jeanne (Marcia Gay Hayden) – are grieving the death of their dad/husband, a policeman killed by mobster Victor Costa (J.B. Blanc). Zoe’s been mute since the incident, but finds comfort in Dino and the “presents” he brings her: dead rodents and reptiles. But soon, Dino’s two lives intersect, putting Nico at risk of being arrested and Zoe’s life at risk from seeing too much of Costa’s world.

The hand-drawn animation is the first thing that sets A Cat in Paris apart from other recent animated films. It’s an abstract, art deco style, full of shadows and vibrant colors, that makes it feel like a classic children’s storybook come to life. Felicioli and Gagnol (working from a clever, often humorous script by Gagnol and Jacques-Rémy Girerd) create great empathy for Zoe and Jeanne, and even have us hoping Nico doesn’t get caught despite the large amount of valuables he’s stolen.

Once Dino’s two worlds cross paths, A Cat in Paris really picks up (accompanied by Serge Besset’s pulse-pounding score) – taking us from foot and car pursuits, to a chase across the rooftops of Paris, to a final showdown atop the Notre Dame cathedral.

At a trim 62 minutes, A Cat in Paris is a welcome detour from what we encounter (and expect) from the big animation studios. Oscar-worthy? That’s debatable. What’s not debatable is that it’s definitely worth watching.

French, with dubbing/subtitles.


What did FilmBoy think?
He enjoyed A Cat in Paris very much – eating up Dino’s antics, rooting for the good guys, and cursing the bad guys.

 Is it suitable for your kids?
A Cat in Paris is rated PG for “mild violence and action, and some thematic material.”
Thematic material: Zoe and her mom are sometimes sad over her dad’s death; Nico steals valuable items and money from homes and museums (he is a cat burglar, after all). There's champagne and wine at a dinner scene, and one character smokes a cigarette.
Language: Costa says he scared one of his cronies so much, “you nearly wet your undies!” He also calls one of his thugs an “idiot.” A minor character says, “You sneaky son of a -” (not finishing the phrase)
Violence/Scariness: Costa slaps one of his men, fires warning shots at another, kidnaps Zoe, chokes Jeanne, and fights Nico, knocking out one of his teeth. (He’s also depicted in a dream sequence as a large, creepy octopus, which may scare young children.) Elsewhere, Dino scratches a person's leg, which briefly bleeds; Nico takes a policeman's gun and holds it on him and Jeanne; detectives shoot guns at a firing range; Dino bloodlessly kills a lizard; and a major character falls to their death.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
A cat. Paris. The value and importance of family. Something tells me she may enjoy it.

"Um, little help?"

A Cat in Paris
* Directors: Jean-Loup Felicioli, Alain Gagnol
* Screenwriters: Alain Gagnol, Jacques-Rémy Girerd
* Stars: Marcia Gay Harden, Steve Blum, J.B. Blanc, Lauren Weintraub, Matthew Modine
* MPAA Rating: PG

Rent A Cat in Paris from Netflix >>


StuartOhQueue said...

The animation looks unique and refreshing. I was also glad to see "Rango" get its due. That was a wonderful picture.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy this, a proper nice little film.

Might get it for mt niece for Christmas.

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