Monday, January 7, 2013

A CAT IN PARIS (DVD & Blu-ray)

I love animated films. Hand-drawn, stop-motion, computer-generated - no matter how they're animated, I enjoy the fantasy of a 'toon, the way in which an entirely new world is created for the viewer. All fiction requires suspension of disbelief on the part of an audience, but animation - when it's done well - instead encourages you to believe. To believe that those obviously unnatural images on the screen are real, that those stylized characters are alive... and have feelings. It's really quite remarkable, really.

Of the many worthy cartoon offerings in 2012, probably the most enjoyable animated film I saw last year was A CAT IN PARIS (a/k/a UNE VIE DE CHAT), an International Euro-caper film from directors Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol.

A CAT IN PARIS tells the story of Dino, a, well, cat in Paris, that lives something of a double life. By day, he is the pampered pet of Zoe, a silent little girl whose mother is a police detective. Zoe hasn't spoken since her father's murder at the orders of a mob boss named Costa, and her mother is determined to nail the gangster and send him to prison. By night, Dino prowls the city with a cat burglar named Nico, a thief with a heart of gold. When Zoe decides to follow her wayward feline one evening, she finds herself in the hands of Costa's gang, and Dino (with Nico's help) may be her only hope of rescue...

With a gorgeous, stylized animation style that resembles pastel children's illustrations, A CAT IN PARIS is a surprisingly dark tale, with a number of frightening situations and some adult themes. While it would probably be okay for older children, it's not a sanitized Disney or Dreamworks kind of 'toon, and parents should probably check it out first. It's an excellent film, though, with compelling characters (including Dino, the cat), humor, drama, and heart. The English dub is pretty good, too, with voicework by Marcia Gay Harden (THE MIST), Anjelica Huston (THE DARJEELING LIMITED) and Matthew Modine (WEEDS).

The Blu-ray/DVD Combo Special Edition  from NewVideo/GKIDS is a beauty, with a flawless, 1.85:1 1080p widescreen transfer. The colors are bright, details are sharp, and it looks terrific. (The enclosed DVD includes a fine, standard-def, anamorphic transfer from the same source). The Blu-ray offers both the original French language track and audio dub in Dolby 2.0 and DTS-HD 5.1 audio. Extra features include a bonus short film, EXTINCTION OF THE SABER-TOOTHED HOUSECAT, a "Video Flipbook," the U.S. theatrical trailer, and a trailer for another animated film, THE SECRET OF THE KELLS.

As I mentioned above, A CAT IN PARIS isn't your typical animated kid's fare, but it's a terrific PG family film, well worth seeking out. Highly recommended.

BUYA Cat in Paris