Theatrical Release: October 12, 2011 (France)
Blu Ray Release: April 16, 2013
Director: Bibo Bergeron
Review by James Klein
This cute but ultimately uneven animated import from France has come to blu ray (and in 3D) after two years of its release. With all new voices by American actors like Bob Balaban, Jay Harrington and Catherine O’Hara, A Monster in Paris is a movie that I think some children and adults may find entertaining for the most part, despite certain flaws.
A Monster in Paris is about a shy movie projectionist named Emile who lives in Paris, circa 1910. He has a crush on ticket taker Maude but just can’t seem to get the nerve up to tell her how he feels. His inventor friend / delivery man Raoul is the complete opposite: brash, loud, outgoing and at time obnoxious with no fear in talking to the ladies. When the two men have to make a delivery to a scientists’ house who isn’t home, Raoul takes it upon himself to bust in and look at his laboratory. Emile and Raoul accidentally mix a few of the scientists potions together and BOOM! They accidentally turn a small flea into a huge, scary monster.
With this monster on the loose, the two bumbling idiots end up joining forces with the beautiful Lucille, a strong-willed dancer/singer who soon befriends the new creature and tries to keep it safe from the law, especially from the handsome but ultimately evil inspector who also seems to have a crush on Lucille.
A Monster in Paris is often fun at times and children should be entertained by the bumbling antics of Raoul and Emile as well as enjoy the much tougher heroine that you seldom see in most animated films. I especially liked how the flea was treated as a monster at first with him creeping in the shadows and scaring towns people. I was hoping, being a foreign film, that it would go that darker route but alas, it turns too cutesy once he meets Lucille. Parents may prefer that, Klein does not.
I do have a few minor complaints though. First off, the music is terrible. I don’t know if that is the American music added into the film or if this is the original French music but it was nails to a chalkboard to me. It reminded me of awful elevator music played over and over again with the same beats and rhythms. Since this film is about music, it should know better. And why does every animated film have to have some animal as a character? Why not an animated film without a cat, or a dog, or a tiger, or a snake, or whatever. Here we have a monkey and while I did laugh at a few of the jokes dealing with the monkey, it just seems so out of place with the rest of the story. But then again, this movie has a giant flea, dancing. The 3D is also not very good. While certain shots do look pretty, mostly landscape shots, don’t expect objects or people to come flying out at you. It’s rather dull to watch this in 3D and I suggest, if you do see A Monster in Paris, stick to the 2D version. The 3D is underwhelming to say the least.
I appreciate the hard work the creators of A Monster in Paris did to bring this film to life (although I really wouldn’t know since there are no special features at all on the making of the film) and there are some neat and humorous moments as well. Making a children’s film set in Paris at the turn of the century is a nice treat to see. But I really wasn’t in awe or was ever pulled into the story like I was with, say Toy Story or Up (not the Russ Meyer film).