‘Un Monstre à Paris’, currently released only in France (12th October 2011), is an enchanting Parisian story, featuring a friendly monster; a monkey; baddies and star-crossed lovers aplenty! The film is directed by Bibo Bergeron (Road to Elderado, Flushed Away) and stars model, singer and wife of Johnny Depp, Vanessa Paradis who plays the main character Lucille, described in the film as “L’ange de Montmartre” – The angel of Montmartre. Her role in the film is unmissable, as she sings alongside the ‘monstre’ in a scene which I think, tops the whole film off perfectly and is the driving force making its audience want to see it again and again!
Set in Paris after the Great Flood of 1910, the plot follows the unlikely hero – a giant flea- through the city of love as he, with the help of his new found friends, tries to avoid being captured by the Parisian police, in particular by the pompous Maynott who is striving to win the heart of the star of the show, Lucille. You truly feel like you’re a part of the story as you’re are swept through the streets of Paris with Raoul- the morally questionable, yet charming ‘businessman’; the reserved projectionist Albert; his blossoming love with the equally timid Maud and, much to the children (both big and small!) in the audience’s liking, an intelligent, humorous monkey named Charles (the initial home of the flea). The plot is laced with a rather subtle humour, which works well to please both adults and children alike. Charles, the monkey is in fact the assistant to the scientist whose laboratory brings about the entire adventure. His character provides many an opportunity for laughter. He communicates through cleverly written signs and comical facial expressions (usually filled with exasperation at the antics of Raoul!).
Rife with songs, romance, action and even mild suspense, ‘Un monstre à Paris’ is difficult to compare to any preceding animation feature. Director Bibo Bergeron, known for works such as ‘Shark tale’ and ‘The Bee movie’ decided to return to his native France to create this wonderfully artistic French animated masterpiece. The animation itself somehow manages to capture the culture and the ambience of this period in Paris so realistically (as far as reality and animation can mix) and the characters appeal to the audience in such a way that renders this film absolutely unmissable.
If you have a soft spot for animated films, especially those with beautifully crafted soundtracks, zany, loveable characters and enthralling animation, then ‘Un monstre à Paris’ should be top of your viewing list. In my somewhat biased opinion, whether you watch it in French or in English, it’s guaranteed to get you tapping your feet and joining in with the catchy song and dance routines.