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Movie Review: The Triplets of Belleville

Alternate Title: Breaking Away - French Style

Story: I admit to being a holdout about seeing this TERRIFIC film. My own stubborn bias against animation kept this film at the bottom of the must see list. WHAT A MISTAKE! This is a gotta see delight.

Five years in the making, combining the talents of French and Canadian animators, this highly imaginative, whimsical cinematic voyage by director and writer Sylvain Chomet has my respect and kudos.

Grandmother Souza is devoted to her orphaned grandson and she nurtures his apparent interest and eventual talent in becoming a cyclist in the Tour de France. He ultimately gets kidnaped and how she rescues him is the body of the film. But it is so much more.

Using an un-Disney like approach this story is about familial love, determination and loyalty. It has an edge and a palette that evokes a gothic quality in tone and aesthetic. You could say it has a dark side. There are no soft, sappy or cuddly characters that are usually seen in animation. This is not a cartoon for children. This is a mature audience film but I think kids over the age of 12 would like it as well.

Virtually without dialogue (there are no subtitles) what we see is masterful storytelling through sound, color and music.

Check it out! Vive la animation!

Acting: Superb!

Predilection: I am not a fan of animation.

Critters: Bruno, the scene stealing wonder dog, a gazillion frogs, a pig and a cat.

Food: The film pokes a wee bit of fun at the cuisine of the French which is depicted here entirely as a diet of frogs. We see frog soup, frog-kabobs, dried tadpoles and for dessert...frog-sicles. The American diet is shown as entirely made up of super sized hamburgers.

Visual Art: Stunning animation with a palette of blues, grays, greens, sepias and shades in between. This is not your primary colored Disney-fied animation.

Blatant Product Placement: None except the Tour de France (is that a product)?

Soundtrack: Fabulous jazzy track that keeps one''s toes a tappin.'

Theater Audience: Just my movie buddy, me and one other lady. This film has been at this theater for three months.

Quirky Meter: 4

Squirm Scale: The preparation of the frog dishes made me squirm (I know, I know -- it was only a cartoon but I couldn't help it).

Predictability Level: Moderate.

Oscar Worthy: It is up against Finding Nemo (I did not see it) so I doubt that it has a chance.

Nit Picking: It could have been five minutes shorter and it would have been better. The chase scene at the end was too long.

Big Screen or Rental: Everything is better on the big screen but it might not come your way so rental would surely be fine.

Length: 80 minutes.

LOBO HOWLS: 7