A Monster in Paris
Depending on how closely you follow the world of animation, the name Bibo Bergeron may evoke an immediate reaction. Bergeron has worked on numerous animated features but is most well known for his previous directorial efforts in The Road to El Dorado and Shark Tale. His latest film, A Monster in Paris, features Bergeron’s trademark animation style and a few musical numbers that will have you tapping your toes.
Set in Paris in 1910, when the city streets are flooded, the story centres around two friends, Emile (Jay Harrington) and Raoul (Adam Goldberg), who accidentally unleash a monster in Paris. One day Emile, a cinema projectionist, agrees to help Raoul, a delivery truck driver by day and inventor by night, make a few deliveries around town. One of Raoul ‘s stops include the greenhouse of an eccentric scientist who happens to be out of town. Ignoring the rules about not touching anything, the two men fool around with some of the scientist’s potions and inadvertently create a creature that stirs the citizens of Paris into a panic. With the entire city in a frenzy, a corrupt police chief (Danny Huston) is determined to slay the beast at all costs for his own political gains. However, It is only when a cabaret singer, Lucille (Vanessa Paradis), takes the monster in that Emile and Raoul realize that the creature everyone is afraid of may not be what he seems.
Like most of Bergeron’s films, the animation in A Monster in Paris is quite lovely. The city of Paris has a serene beauty that looks expansive when coupled with the 3D animation. The character designs are vibrant as well. Each character has a unique look that really helps to give Paris a distinct cultural, and artistic flavour. Bergeron does a good job of matching the looks of the characters with the actors doing the voice-over work. Speaking of voice work, the cast, which also features Bob Balaban, Sean Lennon, and Catherine O’ Hara, all provide good performance in their given roles. Adam Goldberg in particular really shines as Raoul. He gives the character that special spark which makes Raoul a joy to watch whenever he is on screen.
It also must be noted that the musical numbers are exceptional. Bergeron does not weigh the film down with countless musical numbers like other animated films tend to do. The songs he does include have a distinct Spanish feel and are undeniably catchy. It would not be surprising to see one or two of the songs receive a little recognition come award season.
Where the film falters is in its overall plot. Bergeron has several good ideas scattered throughout but they never seem to form together on the whole. Young children will no doubt love A Monster in Paris regardless, but adults will find the sloppy plot devices and underdeveloped characters rather bothersome. A Monster in Paris could have also used much tighter editing from a story standpoint. For example, there is a tender moment between Raoul and Lucille that arrives at the end of the film. The scene features a flashback to when both characters were kids. While the scene is nice, it is completely unnecessary by that point in the film. Their lover for one another has already been implied much earlier. The scene, or at least sections of if, should have either been introduced earlier or left out all together.
Although an engaging film from a visual standpoint, A Monster in Paris does not have a strong enough story to sustain its 90 minute running time. Many scenes felt like they are loosely tied together just to set up the actions sequences. However, as I mentioned earlier, young kids will eat it up. There are enough fun moments that will keep them glued to the screen. As for the adults, well at least the music will help to block out several of the film’s short comings.