If there is anything that irritates me about films made for children these days, it is that they treat children with kid gloves. No danger, no threat, no real emotion, nothing to get kids too attached to the story. A bunch of flashing lights and whirring bells and whistles do not emotion make. The films that I saw when I was a kid were different. I know it's cliche, but back in my day we had films with dark themes and story lines that actually had young people engaged with something more than the most primitive parts of their brains. Films like The Secret of N.I.M.H.
, The Last Unicorn
, and others, mostly from Don Bluth and company, had kids on the edge of their seats because the characters they cared about faced genuine danger. That is nearly gone in the big budget kids films today, but thank heavens for the independents, because A Cat in Paris
is a remedy for that crass sentimentality.
I would spend an entire paragraph on a plot synopsis, but at 62 minutes the film is much more concise than I could ever be. There is a cat who split her time between a mute little girl and a cat burglar. The little girl, Zoé, is the daughter of the police superintendent in Paris, and her father was recently killed by a gang leader with a yen for ancient artifacts. The cat burglar, Nico, is a thief with a heart of gold who ends up being this little girl's saving grace. When the murderer decides to take a swing at a particularly large artifact, Zoé's mother takes it personally and soon enough the whole family is involved, and danger hides behind every corner.
Since the film is so short, directors
Jean-Loup Felicioli & Alain Gagnol waste no time in getting to the action. There are abductions, double-crosses, chases across the rooftops of Paris, and a climax at the cathedral of Notre Dame, all pretty big scale for such a tiny film. Such is the wonder of animation, the only limit is the imagination. The animation isn't particularly flashy, and looks more like a children's book come to life than a big adventure film, but it suits the characters and the story beautifully. A Cat in Paris
is a quick moving tale that will engage children and parents with equal ease. The directors do not skimp on the dread or the threats of violence, so if you've chosen to raise your young ones in a bubble, you might want to sit this one out. However, the films like this are the ones I most remember from my own childhood, and I'm glad I showed it to my son, because he loved it.
The Disc:A Cat in Paris
comes to us on Blu-ray from GKids and New Video. The fact that they had the confidence to release the film on Blu-ray says a lot for both companies. As is often the case with new animation, the HD transfer is immaculate, and the hand-drawn style of the film comes across wonderfully. The colors and detail are awesome, and everything about this disc is stellar. The audio isn't the most impressive in the world, however, that is not what the filmmakers seem to have been going for. The surrounds are used sparingly, but effectively, and the dialogue is crystal clear. All in all, a very satisfying presentation.
There are only two extras on the disc beyond the trailer, and those two only last a total of around 8 minutes, but they are kind of neat. First is an older short film from the directors titled The Extinction of the Sabre Toothed Housecat
, this is a really funny short subject that my son insisted on watching twice in a row. Second is a flip book comparison between different versions of the story that eventually became A Cat in Paris
. Not exactly detailed, the comparisons are, nonetheless, interesting and worth a couple of minutes of your time.
While I can't vouch for the value of this disc (at the time I wrote this review, the disc is $30 on Amazon for less than 70 minutes of overall content), I can say that the film is really fun and a worthwhile way to spend your time, if not your money.
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