ylvain Chomet has created something demented, yet wonderful, in The Triplets of Belleville.
The story is essentially this: Champion, a boy whose parents are gone, is raised by Madame Souza, his grandmother. The boy is inconsolable, despite the best efforts of his grandmother to cheer him up. One day she finds a scrapbook of Tour de France clippings under his bed. she helps him realize his dream by buying him a tricycle.
This quickly leads us to the present day. The sprawl of Paris has engulfed their little house and Champion is coached in his bicycling like a workhouse by Madame Souza. His trusty dog Bruno entertains us by barking constantly at the trains that now pass directly by his window (the house has been tilted over by a train overpass).
Champion enters the Tour de France but is quickly kidnapped by some square shouldered evil-doers (they literally have square shoulders). The story follows the adventures of Madame Souza and Bruno, and eventually the Triplets of Belleville, as they try to rescue Champion from the French mafia.
The word that immediately sprang to mind after watching the film was 'charming'. It leaves you with a feeling akin to Jean Pierre Jeunet's Amelie. Everything in this film is exagerated: Madame Souza's enormous club foot, Champion's ridiculous torso, frog-hunting with explosives, and using Bruno as a spare tire on a bus. But it is this peculiar take on the world that is enjoyable.
I didn't even realize the film was void of dialogue until about the half-way point. The visuals are so compelling that you become lost in the slightly absurd world inhabited by Chomet's characters. Benoît Charest's soundtrack complements the film perfectly (it has been much praised for its creative use of household instruments by the Triplets in their musical interludes - and quite rightly. A vaccuum cleaner, fridge, and newspaper have never sounded so good).
Everything about this film is terrific, and it is entirely kid-friendly (although it should be noted that the Triplets are a bit mad and eat lots of frogs).