A Monster in Paris (2011) FILM REVIEW
Written by Jambareeqi
Posted 24th February, 2018
In this French 3D Computer Animated fantasy adventure, from director Bibo Bergeron (The Road to El Dorado, Shark Tale), shy film projectionist Emile and cocky delivery driver/inventor Raoul accidentally end up creating a monster in a professor’s lab.
The Monster causes a disturbance in the city of Paris, and the local Commissioner Victor Maynott takes advantage of this as an opportunity to play hero. However, a pretty singer called Lucille finds the monster, and realises that the creature has both talent & heart. It’s up to Lucille, Emile, and Raoul to protect the monster; who has been affectionately named Francœur.
Franceour himself is very much the soul of the film, an adorably sweet creature who is simply misunderstood. He may look like mutant flea, but he holds special talents, shows kindness to others, and proves himself effectively practical during conflict with the commissioner. I really empathised with him quite a lot, feeling sorry for how Parisians immediately despised him for simply looking the way he does.
Our heroes are humanly flawed, but hold sincere compassion and intelligent wit. Their adventure pushes them to face their personal obstacles, and demonstrate their abilities related to their passions. Their journey also gives them all a chance to develop naturally! Emile gains confidence and bravery, Raoul learns to be mature and opens up his feelings, while Lucille grows the strength to stand up to the commissioner (she’s being pressured into marrying him for his wealth).
The Songs included in the film, all performed by Lucile and Francœur, are wonderfully different from your usual musical numbers you’d expect from an animated children’s movie. Why? They’re very mellow, soft, and uniquely French! I always looked forward to when these characters would sing, because they’re my cup of tea entirely. There’s a gentle breeze to them, that makes them lovely to listen to, and reflective of the film’s romantic atmosphere.
Yes, the film can be romantic! You see, Emile is trying to ask out his co-worker Maud, but he’s too shy to do so, and his experience on this wild adventure gives him the sense of self worth he needs. Maude and Emile make for a cute couple, because there’s a charm to how they’ve both always dreamed about being with eachother.
While Lucille and Raoul actually have a history together from childhood, but a misunderstanding caused tension between them, and Raoul matures enough to break this mean spirited barrier. It’s touching seeing him admit his feelings, which he adorably hides from others out of stubborn arrogance.
But, I will admit that the film has it’s weaknesses, ones that hinder it from becoming a classic. Firstly, the Commissioner is a very unimaginative antagonist, as he’s just a generic egotistical local celebrity who wants to win the lead heroine’s attention, retain his position as an idol, and slay a misunderstood creature…. Erm, Gaston anyone? He’s not that interesting or funny either, because of his rambling cliche self indulgent dialogue, making him rather forgettable as a villain.
Secondly, the movie has WAY too much momentum. Characters have a habit of talking incessantly to keep things moving, try-hard comedy gags will be distractingly forced into the background at times, and the pacing can be quite exhausting in terms of storytelling. This over-activity is most evident in how the last half hour of the movie is one big extended chase scene, that goes on forever, resulting in a finale that’s tediously long.
Thirdly, while the character’s designs are appealingly quirky, their animation is mediocre at best. I can see the model’s rigs ticking during their movement, and there’s not much intellect being put into their acting. The animation is also a tad fidgety, with characters fiddling about ceaselessly, trying a little too hard to convince audiences that they are alive & upbeat.
To Conclude, I do think that “A Monster in Paris” has charismatically charming characters, and a warm romantic atmosphere to it’s French setting. It’s classic black & white film influences are proudly tattooed on it’s skin too, as it pays homage to King Kong and Phantom of the Opera with affectionate love. It’s just let down by a weak villain, an over-excited style of storytelling, and shaky animation. It certainly deserves a chance though, because there’s something very likeable about it, so maybe give it a go!
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