Monster in Paris (2011)

7 Aug

Given its rapid rise to worldwide prominence, it’s no surprise that the ‘look’ of most children’s CG features is so homogenous —for the most part simply translating the dominant Golden-age Disney/Warner Bros. ‘CalArts’ school of cartoon design into the third dimension. Set during the flooding of the Seine river in 1910, A Monster in Paris (Dir. Bibo Bergeron) makes no efforts to buck this trend. Proving to be a competent, funny and stylish addition to this stylistic canon, though one evidently made on a smaller budget than the usual Dreamworks or Pixar fare, with slightly harder edges and sometimes rougher animation.

As a musical thematically resembling a mix of King Kong and Edward Scissorhands, Monster follows the creation and discovery of the titular creature by a group of friends including cinephile Emile (Jay Harrington), inventor Raoul (Adam Goldberg) and club singer Lucille (Vanessa Paradis). Coming to care for him in part thanks to his prodigious musical talent, they must soon protect him from local authorities, who are keen to have something to distract the populace from their lacklustre response to the whole flood scenario. Culminating with in a chase scene through flooded Paris streets and fight sequences on the Eiffel tower, Monster demonstrates an affinity for providing familiar set-pieces with a few notable stylistic twists. On the musical side of things, it bears mentioning that Monster marks the first return of musician Matthieu Chedid to French animation since 2003’s The Triplets of Belleville, providing not only music, but also the monster’s singing voice in the original French soundtrack.

Director Bibo Bergeron has already had a reasonably long —if not particularly celebrated— career in Hollywood animation, directing such films as the Will Smith vehicle Shark Tale and The Road to El Dorado. Despite its point of origin then, it’s not altogether surprising then that A Monster in Paris should feel so similar to what we’ve already seen a few times. Still, there’s more than enough great movement, visual composition, characterisation and humour in this film for an adult to enjoy without feeling stupid for doing so. Bibo Films is a new production company, and given what they’ve done so far with Monster, I’m happy to see what they come up with next.


By Camilo Diaz-Pino


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