Stars: *** 1/2
Rating: PG-13 for cartoon violence and adult situations
Run Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Oooh la la and a certain je ne sais quoi permeate every frame of this imaginative French gem that leaves ordinary animated projects in the dust.
Madame Souza is a woman of pure Gallic gusto; a feisty grandmother who adopts her grandson Champion and frets while he grows fat and lonely. The vigilant Madame sparks to the notion that Champion fancies bicycles, and revels in the joy of his first tricycle.
As Champion matures, the pair lives and breathes a rigorous two-man training program. Champion rides for interminable miles on his sleek two-wheeler and develops into a rider worthy of his name, while Madame picks up the pieces as trainer, nurturer, and in-house counsel.
The family sacrifices come to a head at the whirlwind Tour de France competition. Champion endures the grueling mountainous slopes as Madame and faithful pooch Bruno play pit-stop support crew. The trio’s dreams of athletic glory collapse when Champion is kidnapped by a pair of devilish Mafioso, looking egregiously chic in head-to-toe black.
Bruno set out on an arduous journey to recover their Champion, literally crossing
an ocean to the bustling metropolis of
No standard mafia crime caper this, nor is it kiddie fare. The evil henchmen are running an underground cycling marathon at which athletes are grossly maltreated and physically abused. The triplets themselves are a kinky lot who subsist on freshly caught (read: live) pond frogs and tirelessly reminisce about their days in the spotlight.
With virtually no dialogue to support the narrative, one wizened and purposeful woman speaks volumes about loyalty and destiny. Weird, wacky, and entirely original.