A Cat in Paris

Dino, the tabby at the center of “A Cat in Paris,” brings new meaning to the term “cat burglar.” He purrs his way between a petty thief on the job and a little girl at home, befriending both and inadvertently tying their disparate worlds.

That occurs after the two-bit bandit gives Dino a fenced, fish-shaped diamond bracelet, who re-gifts it to Zoe, the girl who’s stayed silent since the murder of her cop father at the hands of Victor Costa, public enemy No. 1. Curious where the curio comes from, Zoe follows the cat and stumbles (literally, painfully) in the middle of Costa and his men plotting their heist of Colossus, a giant statue that bears more than a little resemblance to the gangster and his ego.

The cute, charming and colorful caper is this year’s “The Illusionist”: an animated feature from France that shows up its American peers in terms of creativity, artistry and genuine appeal to all ages. Like that film, “A Cat in Paris” also is a surprise Academy Award nominee for Best Animated Feature. If it loses Sunday to something like “Kung Fu Panda 2,” it’s proof that the Oscars are pure politics.

The hand-drawn characters bear imperfect features that stand as a relief amid today’s curve-perfect CGI creations, putting the craft back in cartoons. If your kids can keep up with the subtitles, take ’em to its single showing in town. Heck, even if they can’t, they’re bound to be enchanted and engaged. My 6-year-old proclaimed it “the best movie I’ve ever seen.” Take that, “Puss in Boots.”

Rod Lott

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