There's a sophisticated simplicity to Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol's elegantly crafted caper. Meticulously hand drawn, the animators depict a highly stylized, vibrant Paris (is there any other kind?) that's full of colorful rooftops, restaurants, and statues that will make any viewer want to book a flight to the City of Lights. The plot (despite the one little twist) is easy to follow, and it captures some surprisingly hefty themes for such a short (64 minutes) film: grief, loneliness, moral ambiguity, betrayal, and revenge are all touched upon with a delicacy that's accompanied by an evocative jazzy score. They obviously didn't make this movie just for kids (if they had, Dino would talk), but also for adults who love animation.
It's obvious why the Academy chose to honor A CAT IN PARIS alongside Hollywood offerings such as Rango (which won), Kung Fu Panda 2, and Puss in Boots. While Puss is a cat of loud and flashy action (and lots of sarcastic quips), Dino is simply always there, knowing when to comfort, push, and prod. Even without words, Dino speaks to the characters (especially Zoe and Nico) and the audience in an authentic and often hilarious way. If you have older kids willing to read subtitles, give the French original a chance, but even the English-dubbed version is a wonderful reminder to children that animation is more than singing and talking animals or flashy 3-D sequences.