"The Triplets of Belleville"
Directed by Sylvain Chomet.
Written by Sylvain Chomet.
Starring the voices of Betty Bonifassi, Lina Boudreault and Mari-Lou
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 2/5/04
mom came downstairs tonight to tell me that Janet Jackson might be
banned from appearing at the Grammy Awards this year. I have
decided that the Jackson Wardrobe Malfunction of 2004 is the most
overblown moment in the history of television, period. Seriously, I
saw more tit on “NYPD Blue” in its second season—EVERY WEEK—than the
one-second semi-boob shot this past Sunday. However, if you haven’t
bought a TiVo by now, I fuckin’ DARE you...no, I fuckin’ DOUBLE DARE
you to tell me that TiVo isn’t worth owning. Live TV rewind is
quite simply the greatest invention ever, and the seven-second
rewind button (also known as “My Own Personal Jesus”) is the
greatest part of the greatest invention ever. I wish I had it to
watch that hilarious Charmin commercial over and over again...
HDTV or TiVo? Are you kidding? TiVo for
liiiiiiiiiiife. (However, a note from Dave Lee: a HDTiVo box is
due out by summer. Yeah, I’m sweating too.)
The animation is beautiful, but the French
film “The Triplets of Belleville” is just so slow at times, it
struggles to keep your attention even if you showed up with a
Almost completely without dialogue, the film
follows a man named Champion, raised by his grandmother, and takes
us on a ride through abduction, the mob underworld, and a set of
singing triplets as we span decades of time watching these
people...well, that’s where it gets a little tricky. See, we spend
the first 20 minutes watching as Champion goes from being just a
child to becoming a contender in the Tour de France, and then during
the race itself, Champion is abducted by the Mafioso and some guy
known as The Godfather. Champion’s grandmother, along with the
family mutt, goes after her abducted grandson, who is taken to
Belleville and put into what I can only describe as cyclist
slavery. Some months pass, and while the grandmother looks for her
grandson, she meets the triplets, who are singing stars in
Belleville even in their advanced age...and, the triplets help the
grandmother track down Champion and try to break him out of the
clutches of the mob.
I just re-read that paragraph and now I am
realizing just how ridiculously stupid that all sounds. Well,
that’s exactly the problem with “The Triplets of Belleville”: it
just doesn’t make any sense! The animation of the film is
exquisite, though; I love the way each of these characters—and the
random Frenchies that are strolling through frames of the film—is
drawn, some bigger than life, others with nose and teeth so
deliciously French you can almost imagine being there. The music
for the film is strong, with the main theme song sung by the
triplets being truly spectacular (I believe this song is up for the
Best Song Oscar in a few weeks). Not having any dialogue is not
that out of the ordinary, but with no score accompanying some of the
earlier scenes, sleepy time will be imminent for those coming into
the film without their afternoon nap.
The film’s ridiculous final half hour killed
the momentum built up by a patient set of storytelling in the first
60 minutes. By the time the triplets started throwing grenades at
the mobsters—oh, yeah, they just carry them in their pantyhose; who
didn’t do THAT back in the day?—I sold all of my investments in “The
Triplets of Belleville” and just sat back for the ride home. It’s
like the film was made for adults in the first hour, and then
director Sylvain Chomet thought
“Oh, wait...there will probably be kids in
the audience...they’ll love watching a silly car chase to end the
and this backfires horrifically. Chomet
also throws in about a dozen scenes where the mutt barks at passing
trains; I can’t tell you how tiresome this gets by the time we cross
the halfway point of the movie.
The animation, and the big-screen
experience, is why this one barely inches over the Rental line into
Matinee territory. Otherwise, this was a very average film.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard