A Cat in Paris

Cats have a reputation for being incredibly lazy, and in my (admittedly limited) experience, that reputation is well deserved. That may be why Lassie doesn’t have any real feline counterpart, and it seems like if cats are portrayed in film or television with any real activity, they’re often the bad guy (e.g., Sylvester with Tweety or Tom with Jerry). But I guess Dino the cat didn’t get that message.

If it weren’t for Dino, Zoë would be very alone. The daughter of two police officers, her father was recently killed by local gangster Victor Costa, and her mother spends virtually all of her time trying to track him down. Zoë’s nanny Claudia isn’t particularly affectionate, so Dino is just about all the companionship she gets. She loves that Dino brings her gifts every morning (often in the form of a dead lizard), but neither her mother nor Claudia share that sentiment.

Dino’s custom of bringing Zoë gifts every morning is just the end of a long night for him. He has a whole second life that Zoë doesn’t know anything about. Dino has gotten in the habit of sneaking out every night, and after a brief pause to torment a neighbor’s dog, he continues on to Nico’s apartment, where the two of them are pretty successful burglars. Actually, Nico is the burglar, while Dino is more just a companion and watchcat. But when fate brings them all together, the line between good and bad becomes blurred.

A Cat in Paris combines a sweet story with classic (and refreshing) 2D hand-drawn animation and a short 70-minute runtime that makes it a joy to watch. It’s funny, both in dialog and in slapstick-style action. It’s a pretty kid-friendly movie (at least for kids who can speak French or read English), but it’s not dumbed down or unnecessarily shallow, so there’s a lot for older people to enjoy as well.

It’s not hard to see why it’s been nominated for an Academy Award for best animated feature (alongside American films Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, and Rango, and the Spanish film Chico & Rita), but I’m puzzled as to why it hasn’t been made more widely available. It’s only played once in Austin, and that’s only because of its Oscar nomination, but I’m hopeful there will be other opportunities to see it in the near future.