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A Monster in Paris

A Monster in Paris

Released 27 January 2012
Director Bibo Bergeron

Vanessa Paradis, Sean Lennon, Bob Balaban, Adam Goldberg, Matthew Géczy, Jay Harrington, Danny Huston
Writer(s) Bibo Bergeron, Stéphane Kazandjian
Producer(s) Luc Besson
Origin France
Running Time 90 minutes
Genre Animation, adventure, comedy
Rating G

Oddball charm.

Bibo Bergeron is a French animator who’s spent time in Hollywood directing films like Shark Tale and The Road to El Dorado. However he’s returned home for a film about his native Paris. Set during the Seine Floods of 1910 it tells the story of two friends Emile (Jay Harrington) and Raoul (Adam Goldberg). Emile is a shy projectionist who secretly in love with the ticket girl Maude (Madeline Zima). Raoul is a loquacious chancer of a delivery man, who has long been in love with Lucille (Vanessa Paradis, who voices both the French and English version of this).

Lucille is a singer at a club, and her mother is pressuring her to agree to a marriage proposal from Préfet Maynott (Danny Huston) who runs the city. A pompous opportunist, Maynott is looking for a distraction for the people who are blaming him for not clearing the water from the floods. His opportunity comes when Raoul and Emile pay a visit to the home of a professor to deliver some goods. The professor is away so, despite warnings, the nosey and reckless Raoul disturbs some of his experiments. When Raoul accidentally mixes two chemicals, it results in a flea being expanded to a massive size.

The flea takes off through the roof and begins to terrify Paris in a number of incidents. When the policeman Pâté (Bob Balaban) investigates, the trail leads him to Emile and Raoul. He arrests them but instead of putting them in jail Maynott gives them medals and arranges a press conference telling the city he will personally hunt down the monster. Meanwhile Lucille bumps into the monster outside the club. Though initially terrified she hears the flea sing and he reveals himself as a gentle soul. She takes him in, disguises him and names him Francoeur. When performing her act, Francoeur joins her on stage and the two together become a smash act. However Maynott is still on the trail of Francoeur and fully intends to destroy him.

This isn’t your normal Hollywood production and the French humour comes through, despite mostly American accents. Some of it is quite broad but in general it’s amusing enough. The musical scenes are very enjoyable with Sean Lennon filling in quite well for Mathieu Chedid, who wrote the offbeat music and voiced Francoer in the French version. Most of the voice performances are quite good with Adam Goldberg (sounding spookily like James Woods) getting most of the good laughs.

One problem though is that it takes a long time to build up the scenario, but then jumps almost immediately to an extended chase sequence that takes up the last half hour of the film. It feels a little rushed but doesn’t take away from what’s a generally enjoyable and nicely animated piece of work.

- Jim O’Connor