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Review: The Triplets of Belleville

REVIEW SUMMARY: Charming story, beautiful animation


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A grandmother helps train her grandson for the Tour de France.


PROS: Very good story told with almost no dialog. Broad appeal – the movie thoroughly entertained my wife (who does not normally like animated films), Austen (who’s attention doesn’t normally span 1.5 hours) and me (who’s actually pretty easily pleased by anything different).

CONS: Rated PG-13 for nudity at the beginning of the film.

BOTTOM LINE: Don’t run, BIKE to see this movie!

I’d not heard of this movie until I saw a commercial for it during a Simpsons episode this week. In retrospect, I’m curious to know why they thought the movie would appeal to fans of the Simpsons. At any rate, though, I’m certainly glad I’m a Simpsons fan or I’d have missed this gem.

I won’t say too much of the plot, which unfolds most humorously, except to say that it tells the story of a boy and his grandmother. The grandmother tries to snap the boy out of his constant state of dejection by getting him a puppy. While the puppy is a loyal companion, the boy still seems depressed, so she gets him a tricycle, which he takes to with a zeal.

Flash forward maybe 15 years, the boy has become a man, and is training rigorously for the Tour de France. His grandmother is his trainer, and the hound, now full grown and extremely overweight, has taken to running up the stairs and barking at the train when it passes the bedroom window every 15 minutes.

Okay, that’s not much of a story synopsis, but I really feel that if I say more, it would give away some of the story’s surprises.

The animation was not technically stunning, like Spirited Away (one of my favorite films from last year), but kind of reminded me of classic Disney animation like Lady and the Tramp or the first 101 Dalmations. The animators over-emphasized character features. For instance, the bikers all had skinny bodies and ludicrously muscular legs. The square-shouldered mafia thugs were drawn with, well, square shoulders.

What’s most amazing to me about the movie is that it told such a good story with less than a half-dozen lines of dialog which were, now that I think about it, not even necessary to the plot (i.e. “No money, no hamburgers!”).

Triplets is nominated for an Academy Award this year for best animated film. It’s WAY too bad that Finding Nemo is also nominated. While Nemo is certainly the more technically challenging film, I found Triplets far and away more entertaining. Austen (8) also thought Triplets was a better movie. Rebecca (wife) enjoyed both films for different reasons but hoped that Triplets would get the Oscar simply because it was different, while Nemo was more or less another formula Disney film. Of course Nemo will win, but we can root for the underdog!

I give Triplets 4 stars only because it upset me that the movie had a PG-13 (for the brief nudity at the beginning). If not for that, this would be an excellent family film. Another fantastic family film that came out last year, Whale Rider, was also slapped a PG-13 rating for a brief shot of a pot pipe.

And if this glowing review isn’t enough to get you to the theatre to see the movie, maybe telling you that there’s a preview for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow will?

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