A Cat in Paris Review

Those sultry blues tones, the jazz that comes with it and the dark alleyways they inhibit would be better suited to that of a Humphrey Bogart noir drama, not a fluffy, hour-long feature about a cat in Paris. Exactly what it says on the tin, A Cat in Paris is, indeed, about a cat in Paris. Well, a cat burglar. He has thrilled two security guards with a daring heist and swings away into the night sky with grace and style. They are all part of a series of jewellery heists, and a literal cat leaves paw prints at the scene. It is a tale that can be treated with severity or a nicely managed joy. An approach that leaves this much up to interpretation allows for a free-flowing narrative, piecing together gritty detective work that honours the great noir flicks and, at the end of the day, a film about a criminal cat.  

Even with its light and breezy approach, some moments cost time to these characters. They are dealing with a smaller problem than they understand. Under the impression that a hardened criminal is behind this series of robberies, they are all systems go in hunting down the crook who connived his way into galleries and exhibits. Much of the humour comes from the ribbing process. Taking more than a handful of jabs at the typical archetype and structure of the mob movie and the detective thriller, A Cat in Paris has fun with its source material. “Do I look like a quiche-eater to you?”, the Don says. It is the strangeness of the line and the beauty of its delivery that makes it so fascinatingly fun. It is the inability to hold onto one theme the whole way through that makes A Cat in Paris so enjoyable and free. 

Much of that freedom is not used for anything more than the odd bit of humour. Within just one hour, there is enough humour to leave a lasting impression. None of it is utilised in cohesion with the narrative, but it doesn’t need to be. They are tactical choices that provide ballast to a plot that even directors Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli know is not of importance. They coast along on their nice animation and their strong writing, and as they begin to weave together a fun family feature, it is hard to knock them back when their efforts are earnest and enjoyable.  

With crisp, beautiful animation and a running time that allows me to cram it in-between meetings and deadlines, A Cat in Paris is a wonderfully colourful and fun experience. It has spoof and style at the heart of it all. Throughout, though, there is a kindling of nostalgia for me. A Cat in Paris does not share many similarities with the likes of Charlie and Lola or Next Door Spy, but it brings out the memories I associate with those two pieces of animation. Gagnol and Felicioli have talent on their side, something I do not remember Charlie and Lola having, and know Next Door Spy does not have. A Cat in Paris has that spark of charm so necessary to friendly animation styles but does not have the narrative density or the comedic consistency needed to make this piece more memorable.  

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