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A totally brilliant animated film made by a French Canadian named Sylvain Chomet. Not meant to be taken seriously; a daydream. But an adult's daydream, so it can be gloomy, phantasmagoric and twisted, but also full of energy and life. Many people do not like it, because they cannot handle it. The plot, which is merely a framework that this crazy movie is built around, centers around a tiny old woman's love for Champion (Shahmp-yeeohn), her 20-something grandson. Her grandson came into her care when he was orphaned as a child, and he was depressed until she bought him a tricycle, which guided him to his true passion for cycling. The cartoon of him is highly caricatured, and he is quite passive and unemotional, except for his enormous gray-rimmed eyes, which are extremely mournful. But this is only because his nature is quiet and he is very focused on his bicycle training. He enters the Tour de France, and becomes exhausted while biking through a premilimary moutain phase in 90-degree heat. He goes into what he thinks is a broom van (a van that picks up exhausted riders), and is too depressed to notice anything other than the two wheezing cyclists inside the van in front of him. He certainly doesn't notice that the van is being driven by two wardrobe-shaped men in black...French mafia thugs! They kidnap Champion and the two other bikers, put them aboard a huge ocean liner, and ship them to an imaginary city called Belleville. Belleville is not in America, nor is it in France, nor is it Montreal, Canada. It blends Montreal, Paris, and New York.
Meanwhile, his courageous and devoted grandmother, Madame Souza, is stranded. Her tire has been punctured by tacks scattered by the black-gloved hand of a French mafia goon. But she is determined, and uses Champion's obese bloodhound, Bruno, as a wheel. (ASPCA people probably freaked out about that...) She sees Champion's beloved bicycle on the ground, abandoned, and hurries to the place where the broom vans converge. She finds his red baseball hat in one of them, and gives it to Bruno to sniff. Bruno is onto his scent immediately, and runs up to the ocean dock, just as the deafening blast of the liner's horn sounds as it pulls away. She crosses the Atlantic in a paddleboat, no less, and bumps into the Triplets of Belleville, an aged, once-famous singing trio of the twenties. They then set out to rescue Champion from the mafia. Good thing, too, because the mafia has plans for him that are so evil that you have to watch the movie to believe it! Throughout the movie Champion might not have any idea that he's been kidnapped,'s hard to tell from his expression.
by Amelia July 20, 2004
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