Australian Council on Children and the Media

A Cat in Paris

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Short takes

Not suitable under 9; parental guidance to 12 (violence, scary scenes, themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for A Cat in Paris
  • a review of A Cat in Paris completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 20 August 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 9 Not suitable due to themes, scary scenes and violence.
Children aged 9–12 Parental guidance recommended due to themes, scary scenes and violence.
Children over the age of 12 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: A Cat in Paris
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild Themes and Violence
Length 78 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

A Cat in Paris (English version) is a short movie from French animation studio Folimage. It tells the story of a big old tom cat living a double life in Paris. By day he is Dino, the loyal pet of a little girl called Zoe (voice of Lauren Weintraub) but by night he is Mr. Cat - slinking off to join local cat burglar and art thief, the suave and acrobatic Nico (voice of Steve Blum). Zoe lives with her mother (voice of Marcia Gay Harden), a busy police officer, and their nanny Claudine (voice of Anjelica Huston). Zoe is having a hard time dealing with grief over losing her father. He was also a police officer and was tragically murdered by notorious gangster, Victor Costa (voice of JB Blanc). Zoe hasn’t spoken a word since her father died. Her mother wants to connect with Zoe but is also caught up in her own grief and has become obsessed with tracking down her husband’s killer and putting Costa behind bars. One day Zoe decides to find out exactly where Dino goes every night and follows him across the rooftops. The evening takes a dangerous turn for the worse when she accidently falls upon Victor Costa and his gang– they recognise her and capture her, thinking she’ll make a good hostage. Thankfully, cat burglar Nico and Zoe’s loyal cat Dino come to her rescue, helping her outrun the gangsters. Things become even more dangerous and thrilling when Nico is arrested for theft and Zoe falls once again into the clutches of the villains. Nico and Dino must do their best to save Zoe and bring Victor Costa to justice.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Death of a parent; Organised Crime; Grief; Kidnapping; Art; Animation; Paris; Pets.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Dino kills little lizards and brings them to Zoe as a treat. Zoe collects the dead lizards in a tin.
  • Police practice their shooting at a gun range.
  • The housekeeper calls Dino a rotten mangy cat and sucks at him with the vacuum cleaner.
  • Victor Costa hits one of his apprentices in the face with a quiche.
  • Someone throws a slipper at a barking dog, shouting at it to shut up. A brick falls on top of the dog, squashing it.
  • Victor Costa slaps a man hard in the face.
  • Zoe kicks a woman so hard in the leg that the woman’s leg is bleeding.
  • Victor Costa fires his gun multiple times into the water to frighten his accomplice.
  • A policeman uses a gun to arrest Nico.
  • Nico pulls out a gun in the back of the police car and holds it to the head of the policeman.
  • Victor Costa gets mad and has a tantrum – he takes out his gun and starts firing at a chair and then at a rat.
  • A woman forcibly restrains Zoe against her will.
  • There are several scenes of fist fighting with punching, kicking and slapping.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • There are two scenes in which the mother has a hallucination of a giant red octopus with a scary face and the voice of the mobster villain Victor Costa. It threatens the mother and wraps its tentacles around her neck, as if it is going to choke her. Most small children will find this image very scary.
  • The character of Victor Costa is aggressive and has an angry, scary face. He shouts a lot and is unpredictably violent.
  • Zoe must hide in a small, dark closet while Victor Costa is walking around looking for her, calling out to her in a menacing tone.
  • Many precarious scenes of people leaping from rooftops and nearly falling.
  • A large, dark monster-like creature walks through the streets of Paris.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Children in this age group are also likely to find the abovementioned scenes disturbing.
  • Zoe often has a very sad and distressed expression on her face. When her mother tells her that she shouldn’t be collecting dead lizards in a tin, she gets very upset and flings the tin against a wall and curls up in a ball on the floor crying.
  • Zoe’s mum is very busy and doesn’t have time for Zoe. This makes Zoe feel bad.
  • Someone close and trusted by Zoe betrays her, pretending to be her mother and then assisting in her being kidnapped and held hostage.
  • Zoe runs away from the mobsters and runs through the zoo at night – the chase is quite frightening, and they nearly catch her.
  • Victor Costa (the murderer of Zoe’s father) is very threatening and menacing to Zoe, saying creepy things like, “There’s no running away from Uncle Costa…”.
  • Zoe’s mum goes to practice Tai chi and has a hallucination of a giant octopus, representing her anger, grief and fear. Afterwards she collapses and cries.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Some children in this age group, particularly ages 8-10, are also likely to find the above-mentioned scenes scary or disturbing.
  • Children in this age group may be more aware of the threatening aspects of this film (a small girl held captive by a gang of mobsters) and the psychological themes, such as the tension between Zoe and her mum as they try to come to terms with their grief in different ways.
  • There is a scene where Zoe’s mother mistakenly hands Zoe over into the hands of her captor (in disguise) – Zoe is beside herself with terror but because she is mute, she cannot call out to her mother and tell her what is happening. She is so scared that for the first time in the whole film, she makes a noise.
  • Children in this age group may be more aware of the metaphors, such as the hallucination of the Octopus being a symbol of the mother’s fear and grief.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some mild sexual references in this movie, including:

  • There is some flirtation between Claudine and Victor Costa, who are having a relationship.
  • There is some mild romantic tension between Nico and Zoe’s mother.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Adults drink wine and champagne and smoke cigarettes.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Idiot
  • Shut it!
  • “You sneaky son of a…”.

In a nutshell

A Cat in Paris is a Hitchcock-esque crime caper that gives us a stylised and atmospheric slice of Paris put together with a jazzy music score and some beautiful hand drawn animation. The film has a dark undercurrent and some dangerous moments, so this is not for children under 9 and older children would benefit from parental guidance. A great film for children with an interest in animation, art or design.

The main messages from this movie are that people are not always as they seem, and that grief can be overcome.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Bravery
  • Athletic skills
  • Overcoming communication breakdowns.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Nico is a good man, but he is also a thief who breaks into people’s houses and steals their possessions. What do you think about him being the unlikely hero of the story?
  • Parents could discuss with their children the different ways that people cope with trauma and loss – In this film, Zoe has stopped speaking and her mother has become obsessed with work. Is this a common reaction?

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