A Monster in Paris, while billed as a kids' film, is enchanting enough to entertain adults as well. Set during the Seine flood of Paris in 1910, the film follows Emile (a shy cameraman) and Raoul (an eccentric deliveryman) as they search for the monster terrorising Paris. They soon discover the “monster” is nothing more than a harmless flea that they have accidentally turned into a human-sized musical sensation named Francoeur. With the aid of Lucille, a local singing star, they try to save Francoeur from Pâté, the chief of police who seeks to destroy the monster for his own gain.
From the beginning it's easy to see that the film is beautiful. The animations and artwork are visually fantastic, if sometimes a bit over-the-top with the character design. The characters themselves are enjoyable and benefit from strong voice acting in the English language dub. The sole exception would have to be Raoul, who strives to be amusing, but now and then comes off as the annoying one-liner guy. Francoeur was a brilliant character, proving to be both cute and scary, and not slightly cuddly. I found myself wishing he could have arrived on screen much sooner than he actually did.
Though parts of the film felt like a pantomime, it still managed to tug at the heartstrings. Not long after Francoeur appeared, we were given a sequence that pulled us back to see the story from Francoeur's eyes. We watched as he transformed, darted across Paris in fear, and finally found himself on Lucille's doorstep. With Francoeur's first song carrying through, it made for an interlude that is one of the most memorable moments of the film.
The absolute highlight here has to be the music. The songs were catchy enough to encourage toe-tapping and humming along. “The Seine” was a particular favourite, and was the best musical number of the film. The only real disappointment was the limited number of songs, and a few more musical sequences with Francoeur and Lucille would have given the film a definite boost and well-deserved extra screen time.
Despite its good points, A Monster in Paris is not without its flaws. It seems to struggle with slow pacing until Francoeur finally comes properly into the story, though it seems to move at a good, steady speed for the remainder of the film. There are some holes in the story logic, such as how a flea can be such a fantastic guitarist within seconds of seeing one for the first time. One of the characters, the monkey Charles, also seemed to be nothing other than blatant comic relief once his initial purpose, supplying the flea, had been served.
However, considering the content and intended audience of the film, these things can probably be overlooked. In my opinion, its strengths greatly outweigh its faults. A Monster in Paris proves to be a refreshing change from the average animated films being produced in recent years.
For more from guest blogger Rae, please check out her website.