First, I really must thank the New York International Children’s Film Festival for bringing one of my wish list movies of 2011 to the event this year. This French CGI production played in 3D and was the opening night feature to kick off the nearly month-long festival. This comedy adventure features wonderful animation, great music, and charm on all levels.
Our story begins in a flooded Paris of the early 20th century, giving a magnificent backdrop to the tale. When Emile and Raoul make a delivery to a scientist’s lab, they take the time to explore. Their experiments accidentally create a giant insect that promptly escapes into the city. With the pompous police commissioner in pursuit, the now infamous “Monster of Paris” meets young singer Lucille who takes him in after recognizing his noble heart.
Lucille is a great lead heroine. She is talented, quick-witted, and brave as anything! The musical numbers of her on stage are magical, helping to enrich the life of the story. Everyone in the film has big dreams as well: Raoul as inventor, Emile as filmmaker, and Lucille as singer. Raoul and Emile evolve emotionally over the course of the film too, at first being unable to tell the girls they are in love with how they really feel. And our dear monster, who proves the age-old case of not judging a book by its cover, is central in bringing people together and creating change. The daring adventure of friendship that this becomes is vibrant.
I was so impressed by the construction of A Monster in Paris. Little actions that happen early are relevant to the end of the story. While the movie is fantastical, anything could happen, they still take great care to ensure that nothing happens out of thin air. It is all connected. I was similarly pleased with the character relationships. The film continually shows its ability to juggle without getting tangled up or overly exposition heavy.
This classic story of a monster with a gentle heart is brought to life with all the right flourishes making it so very memorable. Far and away my favorite film at the festival this year and maybe my favorite from the festival ever. Please, please, please give it a wider theatrical release; not only does it deserve an Oscar nomination, I’d like to own to watch over and over.