Blu-ray Review: A Cat in Paris

STUDIO: GKIDS/Cinedigm | DIRECTOR: Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol | VOICES: Marcia Gay Harden, Anjelica Huston, Matthew Modine
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 10/9/2012 | PRICE: Blu-ray $39.95, DVD $29.95
BONUSES: French-language version, video flipbook, bonus short film
SPECS: PG | 62 min. | Family animation adventure | 1.85:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0/Dolby Digital 5.1 | French and English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall

Those of us who are owned by cats have long suspected that they lead double lives, doing time as both our purring companions and as sleek, wily predators constrained only by their own inclinations. This idea is brought to vivid life in 2010’s A Cat in Paris, a charming and beautifully hand-drawn animated feature from France.

A Cat in Paris movie scene

Zoe and Dino survey the situation in A Cat in Paris.

This title character is Dino—a Parisian feline who spends her days as a beloved housecat in the home of a little girl named Zoe, whose mother is a detective on the Parisian police force, and her nights as accomplice to Nico, a big-hearted cat burglar who skulks along rooftops throughout the city. Zoe’s father was also a police detective, recently killed in the line of duty. Zoe’s mother is determined to catch the gangster chieftain responsible for the shooting, leaving her little time for a grieving girl who’s lost the ability to communicate with anybody except her beloved feline companion. When Zoe is kidnapped by the same gangsters responsible for her father’s death, it comes as no surprise that Dino—with Nico’s help—is the one who saves the day.

A Cat in Paris is the best kind of animated feature. Its touch is gentle enough to make it appropriate and engaging for younger audiences, while the story of a mother and daughter grieving for a lost family member while struggling to find common ground between themselves will resonate with adult viewers. (The film is also mercifully free of the wink-wink, aren’t-we-clever irony that overflows in so many American animated movies these days.) Directors Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol, along with the renowned French animation studio Folimage, have done an exquisite job capturing the moods and mysteries of Paris by day and by night If you’re at all romantically inclined toward the city going into this film, you’ll be completely infatuated coming out. Marcia Gay Harden (Amanda Knox: Murder On Trial In Italy) provides the voice of Jeanne, Zoe’s mother, while Anjelica Huston (The Royal Tenenbaums) is perfectly cast as their housekeeper, who has her own nefarious agenda. Matthew Modine (The Dark Knight Rises) also chimes in as the voice of Lucas, Jeanne’s partner.

Gorgeously illustrated, minutely observed (Dino’s familiar cat mannerisms and quirks are spot-on) and, funny where it ought to be and poignant where you’d least expect it, A Cat in Paris is sure to find an enthusiastic audience among ailurophiles and even their cat-neutral brethren.

Also included on the modestly appointed Blu-ray is a collection of color storyboards depicting various unused tonal approaches to the film (a meaner version, a sillier version and so on) and Damon Wong’s The Extinction of the Saber-Toothed Housecat, a 2010 animated short that cutely captures a saber-tooth’s demise via plummeting asteroid.

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About Gwen

Gwen Cooper is a movie and TV lover and the author of Homer's Odyssey (no, not the one you're thinking of).