Animated films set in Paris seem to have a marked inclination for the – at first sight – skin-crawlingly unappealing.
And it’s not just the French.
Pixar’s Ratatouille followed the plight of culinary-gifted rats while this tale from Shark Tale director Bibo Bergeron features a human-sized flea fresh from sucking the blood of a monkey.
He’s the titular “monster of Paris,” an unfortunate insect who just happened to be in the wrong place when accident-prone van driver Raoul (Goldberg) fiddled with various potions at the city’s botanical gardens.
Together with his buddy, film projectionist Emile (Harrington) and svelte nightclub singer Lucille (Paradis), they conspire to keep the flea – now christened Francoeur and decked out like Zorba the Greek – safe from prying eyes.
However, pompous city commissioner Maynott (Huston) begins hearing stories of a monster haunting the boulevards and reasons that if he can slay it then he’ll be a shoo-in when it comes to the mayoral elections.
Far less brash than its American cousins at DreamWorks and Pixar, this sweetly simple tale is effectively told with well-composed characters giving voice to some appealingly sharp dialogue.
However, where it rates highest is the lavish animation which – like Ratatouille – revels in its serene depictions of turn-of-the-century Paris, a gloriously gorgeous confection of cobbled streets and handsome buildings.
Youngsters will be enthralled by the adventures of the troublesome trio while mum and dad may find themselves singing along to a Matthieu Chedid’s score, a rich pastiche which sweetly drives the narrative along.
This is one flea you won’t mind in your ear.