The Triplets of Belleville

Rated 5.0 Finding Nemo’s stiffest competition for this year’s Best Animated Feature Oscar is this mostly hand-drawn, totally beguiling and utterly French fantasy. Graphic novelist Sylvain Chomet’s highly original, overwhelmingly detailed and intoxicating tale of child-rearing, rescue and grandmotherly devotion is populated with distorted people, places and things as well as creepy criminal activity. It is a delirious, ink-drenched affair in which the elderly Madame Souza, an obscenely obese hound dog Bruno and the three scat-singing spinsters of the title search for Souza’s cyclist grandson, who is kidnapped by the mafia during the Tour de France. It works brilliantly as a haunting and satirical social commentary on French and North American culture, excesses and corruption, with several jabs with a sharp stick reserved for all things Hollywood. But it also works well simply as 80 minutes of funny, frightening, moving, magical, exhilarating, horrific, smart and silly entertainment.