A Cat in Paris

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
A Cat in Paris Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Animated thriller's action makes it best for older kids.
  • PG
  • 2012
  • 64 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A Cat in Paris isn't heavy handed with messages, but there are a few that stand out: People are complicated, a thief may actually be ethical, and a seemingly kind woman might actually have less honorable intentions. Communication is beyond the verbal: Zoe can get her point across even without speaking. Family is ultimately more important than work.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The movie is filled with flawed characters: Nico is a thief but an honorable one. Jeanne is a fantastic detective, but she she's so overworked that she isn't always there for her daughter, Zoe. People who seem good are actually villainous. Zoe is mute but has so much to say with her face and her actions.


Although none of the violence is without consequence, there are several suspenseful action sequences, one of which results in a death. A character is accused of slowly poisoning people with her "perfume." A crime boss is a terrible shot and can't kill a spider with his handgun. The central cat kills lizards, and it's considered a good thing. A character falls to his death after a hallucination that brings Notre Dame Cathedral gargoyles to life in a scary manner. Zoe's mother Jeanne has frightening nightmares about the man who killed her husband; she imagines him as a menacing giant octopus. A barking dog is squashed but then is shown barking again.


Costa and Claudine are affectionate with each other, and he calls her his pet. A male nude statue has a penis.


Mostly insults: "Son of a ...," "mangy cat," "stupid."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

It's France -- there's Champagne and wine at a dinner scene, and one character smokes a cigarette.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Cat in Paris is a French animated drama that was nominated for an Academy Award in 2012 and was subsequently dubbed in English. With its cops vs. robbers plot and several gripping action sequences -- not to mention a story that touches on grief, loneliness, moral ambiguity, betrayal, and revenge -- it's not ideal for preschoolers used to lighter cartoon fare. The violence includes gunfire, hallucinations, a man plunging to his death, and a woman who betrays a little girl's trust and then places her in harm's way. Some children will also be disturbed by the fact that Dino (the titular cat) routinely hunts and kills lizards. With a couple of exceptions, the characters are all flawed, and since the story is set in Paris, adults smoke and drink wine and Champagne.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10, 12, and 15-year-old Written byHendo H. U December 27, 2017
Adult Written byaubreyp May 30, 2015
Teen, 13 years old Written byCinnamini April 20, 2020


Some blood, only a few curse words, (i.e., one or two) But the art, the animation, its PURE
Teen, 17 years old Written byT J May 8, 2018

What's the story?

Zoe (voiced by Lauren Weintraub) hasn't spoken since her father, a police officer, was killed. Her mother, Jeanne (Marcia Gay Harden), is an overworked Paris police detective who's determined to arrest her husband's murderer, organized crime boss Costa (JB Blanc), whom she suspects is planning a major art heist. Zoe is watched by her uptight nanny, Claudine (Anjelica Huston), and her only friend is her pet cat, Dino. At night, however, Dino leaves Zoe's bedroom and prances to the side of an unorthodox jewel thief, Nico (Steve Blum). As Jeanne makes plans to catch Costa before he steals the Colossus of Nairobi (an ancient totem being delivered to Paris for an exhibit), Dino eventually leads his two "owners" to meet, and Zoe bonds with Nico. A twist brings all the players together in a dangerous chase across Paris.

Is it any good?

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Paris is used as another character in the film. What are the landmarks that serve as a backdrop? Kids: Would you like to research more about Parisian architecture and culture, particularly Notre Dame? Where would you start?

  • How is A Cat in Paris different from most American animated films? How do you think the movie would have been different had it been made in Hollywood?

  • Is the violence in the story realistic or cartoonish? Discuss the way the violence has consequences.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animation

Themes & Topics

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