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flick pick | The Triplets of Belleville [Les Triplettes de Belleville] 2003
Directed + written by: Sylvain Chomet
Starring: Beatrice Bonifassi, Betty Bonifassi, Lina Boudreault, Michèle Caucheteux, Jean-Claude Donda
Language: French
Look for it at the video store under: animation
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something: artsy-fartsy, darkly comic, whimsical
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: ½/5 

Plot synopsis An old woman and her grandson live in a rickety little house in a small village with their dog. Eager to put a smile on the face of her mopey, pudgy grandson, the old woman finally stumbles across the one gift that her grandson covets most in the world: a bicycle. As he grows up, the overweight boy grows into a lean, mean cycling machine. With his devoted grandmother (and reluctant dog) as coach, the grandson trains for the Tour de France. His dream is thwarted, however, when he's kidnapped mid-race by a mysterious team of hulking men in black. The grandson and two other exhausted cyclists are loaded up on a big boat and promptly whisked away to parts unknown. When the grandmother realizes what's happened, she sets off in search of her grandson, on a journey that take her and her dog on a voyage across the ocean. They land in the big, bustling metropolis of Belleville, a place she's only seen on television until this point in her life. The odds are stacked against her as she wanders the cold, uncaring city without a single coin in her purse, or a plan of action for tracking down her grandson. But when she makes the acquaintance of a once-famous singing trio, things start looking up.

Review Don't get me wrong: I love those adorable Pixar movies too. But it's so refreshing to see an animated movie in which the story takes you to places you never would have expected. The Triplets of Belleville is a weird, weird movie -- and I mean that in the very best way possible. There's almost no dialogue -- which means that even those who hate reading subtitles can enjoy this excellent foreign flick -- and the story relies instead on its snazzy old-style animation visuals and supremely catchy soundtrack to keep the plotline moving. Each character looks absolutely perfect and completely individual- from the stereotypically French-looking (and grotesquely muscular) cyclist grandson, to the fat dog with his tiny tiny legs, to a maitre-d' in a Belleville restaurant that's literally bending over backwards to accommodate his clientele. While Belleville gleefully pokes fun at Americans (Belleville is essentially New York City, and its denizens are uniformly drawn to be gargantuan and obese), it's equal opportunity in its mocking, skewering the French just as roundly. There's a definite dark edge to the comedy-though it's a cartoon, this isn't kid stuff- but as long as you don't let yourself get offended, Belleville is very funny indeed. But the greatest thing about watching The Triplets of Belleville is that ten minutes into the story, it immediately becomes apparent: in this movie, anything is possible, conventions and common logic be damned. If you can't deal with the weird, you'll probably be frustrated by this flick. But if you can surrender to the surreal, you're in for a very fun ride.  —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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