Movie review: A Cat in Paris

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From the July 19, 2012 edition

The animated short film “Extinction of the Saber-toothed Housecat” opens screenings of “A Cat in Paris,” acting as a tasty amuse-bouche for the Oscar-nominated hand-drawn feature. If only the entree had a little more meat on it.

Running a lean 65 minutes, Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli’s film follows the double life of a wise black cat named Dino. By day, he’s a soothing companion to Zoe, a little girl left mute by the murder of her father. By night, Dino joins Nico (voice actor Steve Blum), a cat burglar, on loot raids across the rooftops of Paris.

Nico, Zoe and her detective mother (voiced by Marcia Gay Harden) soon develop a connection beyond their mutual feline friend, partly through the appearance of Victor Costa (voice actor JB Blanc), the gangster responsible for Zoe’s fatherlessness.

The French film has been dubbed in English for young American viewers. The story is basic and the length is kid-friendly, but this often doesn’t feel like a movie for kids. It’s too low-key to command a short attention span, and it contains a few images that could creep out little ones.

Still, it has a quirkiness that will charm adult animation fans, along with truly striking imagery from beginning to end. Wearing influences ranging from Picasso to The New Yorker, the look of “A Cat in Paris” lingers longer in the memory than the story driving it.