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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dilili in Paris is an animated adventure/buddy film set in turn-of-the-20th-century Paris. The titular Dilili (voiced by Angelina Carballo), an indigenous Kanak girl from New Caledonia who works in a cultural exhibit at the zoo, and her friend Orel (Jason Kesser), a young French courier who knows a who's-who of Belle Epoque Parisians, team up to figure out why many girls have gone missing. Directed by acclaimed French animator Michel Ocelot, the movie starts out as a road trip-style jaunt through the City of Light -- including the risqué Moulin Rouge, where viewers drink and smoke and watch women dancing in a style considered to be provocative. There are a few insults and racial slurs, as well as a disturbing plot twist that involves the cruel subjugation of women and girls. But the characters also demonstrate courage, curiosity, and teamwork as they work to defeat the mysterious Male Masters who are plaguing the city.
What's the story?
DILILI IN PARIS is veteran director Michel Ocelot's animated historical adventure about Dilili (voiced by Angelina Carballo in the English-dubbed narration), a young indigenous New Caledonian girl who takes part in a living exhibit about Kanak culture in early 1900s Paris. Dilili and her new friend, a young courier named Orel (Jason Kesser), investigate a series of kidnappings in the City of Light, determined to figure out what the mysterious "Male Masters" -- an underground cabal of misogynists -- are doing with the girls they've abducted. Along the way, they meet many of Paris' turn-of-the-century glitterati, from Nobel Prize-winning physicist Marie Curie to artistic legends like opera great Emma Calvé, author Colette, actress Sarah Bernhardt, Picasso, Manet, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Marcel Proust, and many, many more.
Is it any good?
Ocelot's homage to Belle Epoque Paris is entertaining, but it's also unevenly dubbed into English and has a divisive animated style. Teen and adult Francophiles or history buffs will particularly enjoy visiting the who's who of fin de siècle stars of the arts, letters, and sciences. The vibrant salon and nightlife culture of the early 1900s -- and, of course, Orel's convenient job -- make it easy for the friends to zip from neighborhood to neighborhood in search of ever more legendary figures. Of course, Orel and Dilili also stand out, since she's a tiny indigenous Kanak girl running around with an impossibly tall French fellow.
Dilili in Paris' visuals may not work for everyone; sometimes the action feels too flat against the photorealistic backgrounds. And the cadence and style of the English dialogue may seem stilted to some. Considering the mature themes in the second half of the movie, it's hard not to think it would have been much better to see the film in the original French with English subtitles. Despite these flaws, lovers of Paris and historical fiction will be fascinated with the Forrest Gump-like way in which Dilili and Orel experience the city, as will older tweens and teens who appreciate mysteries (even though this one is a bit unexpectedly Handmaid's Tale-ish in nature).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Dilili in Paris' violence. Is it necessary to the story? How much violence is too much for younger viewers? Does animated violence have the same impact as live-action violence?
What did you learn about Belle Epoque Paris from the movie? How many of the famous artists and scientists did you recognize? Did the movie make you interested in the historical and cultural significance of Paris during this time?
Who do you think the movie's target audience is? Will younger viewers understand or appreciate the sights and public figures depicted?
Talk about the movie's anti-women storyline. How is the misogyny of the Male Masters contrasted with the various legendary women of Paris?
- In theaters: October 4, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: November 12, 2019
- Cast: Angelina Carballo, Jason Kesser, Paula Barros
- Director: Michel Ocelot
- Studio: Samuel Goldwyn Films
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Arts and Dance, Friendship, History
- Character strengths: Courage, Curiosity, Teamwork
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic material throughout, some language, peril and brief smoking
- Last updated: November 11, 2019
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