If you're after a piece of escapism or have young ones to entertain: Voila
Luc Besson presents the return of Bibo Bergeron and the team that gave us Shark Tale for an animated Gallic romp offering a much-needed life buoy of originality on the high-definition seas of Pixar domination.
Set in Paris during the Seine flood of 1910 we follow the wacky wannabe inventor Raoul, a man with a van in a shaggy coat – think a genetically spliced version of Del Boy and Rodney – and his best friend Albert. With a delivery to make to a Professor whose laboratory doubles as a menagerie of tropical mystery, it's not long before they start tinkering with potions. The result? The monster of Paris is let loose. But he's actually an overgrown and entirely good-natured flea with a unique singing voice. Not quite Kafka's Gregor Samsa metamorphosed into an X Factor wannabe, but almost.
And it's through the music and the songs of Vanessa Paradis that this story soars. Mrs Depp voices a cabaret singer of whom Raoul's infatuation drives the plot. Meanwhile, the villain of the piece is Commissioner Maynott – voiced by Little White Lies star François Cluzet – seizes on the monster to deflect criticism of his handling of the impending floods and to boost his hopes of becoming mayor. Cue madcap chases along cobbled streets, crooning and comedy swooning.
With a relatively modest budget of €28m, you can't help feeling that with a fistful of Euros a bit more running time this would have let the characters breathe and been able to introduce the intriguingly absent professor. But if you enjoyed the delightful quirkiness of The Illusionist (a love letter to the incomparable Jacques Tati) or ever yearned for the inventiveness of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Delicatessen in pixellated form, then this romping 3D tale is for you.
For once the goggles work well here, allowing for depth with a pop-up book feel that does justice to the winding streets of Montmartre and a skyline peppered with the iconic likes of the Sacre Coeur and the Eiffel Tower. But above all it's just plain fun, and the songs are catchy, too. So if you're after a piece of escapism or have young ones to entertain: Voila!
Another 3D kids cash in? Though it is produced by Luc Besson.
A joyful feast for the eyes and ears.
Leaves you wanting a little bit more.