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An old woman and her
grandson live in a rickety little house in a small village with their
dog. Eager to put a smile on the face of her mopey, pudgy grandson, the
old woman finally stumbles across the one gift that her grandson covets
most in the world: a bicycle. As he grows up, the overweight boy grows
into a lean, mean cycling machine. With his devoted grandmother (and
reluctant dog) as coach, the grandson trains for the Tour de France. His
dream is thwarted, however, when he's kidnapped mid-race by a mysterious
team of hulking men in black. The grandson and two other exhausted
cyclists are loaded up on a big boat and promptly whisked away to parts
unknown. When the grandmother realizes what's happened, she sets off in
search of her grandson, on a journey that take her and her dog on a
voyage across the ocean. They land in the big, bustling metropolis of
Belleville, a place she's only seen on television until this point in
her life. The odds are stacked against her as she wanders the cold,
uncaring city without a single coin in her purse, or a plan of action
for tracking down her grandson. But when she makes the acquaintance of a
once-famous singing trio, things start looking up.
Don't get me wrong: I love those adorable Pixar movies too. But it's so
refreshing to see an animated movie in which the story takes you to
places you never would have expected. The Triplets of Belleville
is a weird, weird movie -- and I mean that in the very best way
possible. There's almost no dialogue -- which means that even those who
hate reading subtitles can enjoy this excellent foreign flick -- and the
story relies instead on its snazzy old-style animation visuals and
supremely catchy soundtrack to keep the plotline moving. Each character
looks absolutely perfect and completely individual- from the
stereotypically French-looking (and grotesquely muscular) cyclist
grandson, to the fat dog with his tiny tiny legs, to a maitre-d' in a
Belleville restaurant that's literally bending over backwards to
accommodate his clientele. While Belleville gleefully pokes fun
at Americans (Belleville is essentially New York City, and its denizens
are uniformly drawn to be gargantuan and obese), it's equal opportunity
in its mocking, skewering the French just as roundly. There's a definite
dark edge to the comedy-though it's a cartoon, this isn't kid stuff- but
as long as you don't let yourself get offended, Belleville is
very funny indeed. But the greatest thing about watching The Triplets
of Belleville is that ten minutes into the story, it immediately
becomes apparent: in this movie, anything is possible, conventions and
common logic be damned. If you can't deal with the weird, you'll
probably be frustrated by this flick. But if you can surrender to the
surreal, you're in for a very fun ride. —reviewed
by Yee-Fan Sun
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