The beautiful computer animation of A Monster in Paris (Un monstre à Paris) brings to mind classic horror films like Murder in the Rue Morgue, Phantom of the Opera, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Frankenstein. However, the animation style is more in line with recent offerings from Pixar and Dreamworks.
[R: Raoul and Emile]
The action begins with two unlikely friends, Emile (Jay Harrington) and Raoul (Adam Goldberg). Raoul, a delivery man, styles himself as a wacky inventor, harboring a crush on his childhood friend Lucille (Vanessa Paradis), a singer at the club L’Oiseau Rare (The Rare Bird). Emile loves his co-worker Maud (Madeline Zima), but is too shy to let her know.
One evening Emile joins Raoul while he is making a delivery at an actual mad scientist’s house in the botanical gardens. Emile thinks they should just do the job and leave, but Raoul starts snooping around and playing with the absent professor’s potions. Despite the protestations of the scientist’s pet monkey Charles, the two mix two bottles together and inadvertently create a monster – a gigantic flea – that begins to terrorize Paris.
The citizens of Paris, mostly goaded into fear by commissioner of police Maynott (Danny Huston), are running scared. But the flea is actually quite a gentle soul, and when Lucille discovers that he is not only not violent, but a wonderful singer and natural musician, she immediately makes him part of her cabaret act, and the two become the toast of Paris. Lucille names him “Francœur,” (“honest heart”). But it doesn’t take long before Lucille, Raoul, and Emile are trying desperately to protect Francœur from the suspicious and ambitious Maynott.
[Above: Lucille and Francœur on the town]
Bob Balaban and Catherine O’Hara also provide voice work in this English-language version of the French animated film. A Monster in Paris was produced by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Léon: The Professional, Nikita) and directed by Bibo Bergeron (The Road to El Dorado, Shark Tale). The film is rated PG for some mild action, with a running time of 87 minutes and an aspect ratio of 1.77:1. It is in color, and widescreen format. The animation and colors are sharp and vivid and look great on a large-screen high-definition television. The sound and soundtrack both sound great,with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.
Not only is A Monster in Paris wonderful to look at, but it is chock-full of great songs performed by Paradis and Sean Lennon (originally done by Paradis and French singer M in the French version). Set in 1910 Paris, fans of the City of Light will enjoy seeing the Basilica of Sacre Cœur under construction, the Eiffel Tower in the snow, as well as other beautifully rendered scenes of the city. A Monster in Paris is a fun film that the entire family will enjoy.