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A Monster in Paris (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

A Monster in Paris


Featuring the voices of Adam Goldberg, Jay Harrington, Vanessa Paradis, Sean Lennon, Bob Balaban, Danny Huston, Catherine O’Hara and Madeline Zima.

Screenplay by Bibo Bergeron and Stéphane Kazandjian.

Directed by Bibo Bergeron.

Distributed by Shout Factory. 87 minutes. Rated PG.

French animator Bibo Bergeron has returned home to Paris after crossing over to the US for films like A Shark's Tale and The Road to El Dorado.

A Monster in Paris is an English-dubbed version of this 2011 French release. In its homeland the film was known as Un Monstre á Paris. The new video release has American voice actors mostly replacing the original Gallic cast – only singer/actress/model and Johnny Depp ex Vanessa Paradis retains her role in the English translation.

This animated soufflé – which is stunningly beautiful artistically and more than occasionally silly as far as storyline – ends up being rather charming. Nothing you haven't seen before, and the title character is a bit absurd, but A Monster in Paris is probably a bit better than the sum of its parts.

A Monster in Paris centers around a slightly remembered moment in French history, a short period early in the last century in which the city of Paris was horribly flooded. However, the flood itself turns out to be a bit superfluous: a nice piece of seasoning, but rather insubstantial to the story at large.

It's more of a whimsical retelling a The Phantom of the Opera, in which a monster with a gorgeous singing voice is befriended and hidden by a beautiful local singing star.

A Monster in Paris shares the world of the city of lights during the silent film era (a time and place that has also recently been revisited in Hugo, The Artist and Midnight in Paris.).

Emile (voiced by Jay Harrington) is a shy, bookish film projectionist with a huge crush on Maude (Madeline Zima), the girl in the ticket booth. Emile's best friend is Raoul (Adam Goldberg), a fast-talking con artist who is always in some sort of benign trouble. On a whim, Raoul talks Emile into trying out a top-secret chemical science experiment being worked on by a local scientist.

Hmm, that couldn't end badly, could it?

You know it could. Through some odd circumstances, they grow a flea into the size of a giant man. The flea disappears into the Paris night, but it turns out that he has the heart of a poet and the singing voice of an angel (voiced by Sean Lennon).

While hiding in the alleys of Paris, the flea meets the lovely and talented Lucille (Vanessa Paradis), the biggest singing star in the city. When Lucille hears the flea's singing, she disguises him as a man, calls him Francoeur, and tries to protect this pure artist from the world. Of course the world won't stay at bay, and soon the opera house is overrun by people trying to find out what happened to the monster and who is that huge, wonderful new singer?

It's an interesting and different take on kiddie films, and if things get a little predictable towards the end, you have to give A Monster in Paris props for mostly giving an imaginative and offbeat take on the genre.

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2013 All rights reserved. Posted: April 16, 2013.


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