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"A Cat in Paris": Childish Animation Dampens French Charm 

Wednesday, May 30 2012
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A sketchy trifle of French animation grabbing time in theaters thanks to its recent Oscar nomination, Felicioli and Gagnol's barely-hour-long film seeks shelf space beside Sylvain Chomet's deft and rapturous hand-drawn cartoons (The Triplets of Belleville, The Illusionist), and the required self-conscious Frenchiness is spot-on. But the loose, all-pastel picture-book images and nearly featureless characters, smacking of the odd belief that children's art should look like children drew it, are less than fascinating, and the story — a family's cat accompanies a lithe cat burglar on his rounds every night, embroiling the fatherless young girl in a crazy gangster's quest for a priceless artifact — is unoriginal and mired in bad jokes. What does the Academy cabal that votes up animation have against Japanese anime, anyway? (Last year, Makoto Shinkai's Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below and Takahiro Omori's The Light of a Firefly Forest, for two, deserved the nod.) Further dampening the low-voltage charm of A Cat in Paris is the English-dubbing job (Marcia Gay Harden, Anjelica Huston, etc.), filling this coloring-book Paris with grating American and British accents, just like Miramax used to do to Miyazaki. A mildly amusing mini short, Damon Wong's Extinction of the Saber-Toothed House Cat leads off.

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Michael Atkinson

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