The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
Writer and director Sylvain Chomet has created what many have hailed as one of the most creative animated films ever. The film, which has no dialogue, is full of sounds (barking dog, trains, frogs, jazz) and populated with exaggerated characters that are at once grotesque (obese, pigeon-toed, etc.), hilarious, poignant, and deeply human. The satire follows the fortunes of an orphaned boy named Champion, who, after obsessive-compulsive training by his whistle-wielding grandmother Madame Souza, enters the Tour de France. He's kidnapped in the middle of the race by square-shouldered, cigarette-smoking French mafiosos in sunglasses. The bad guys take Champion and two other cyclists to Belleville, a surreal world where like horses in harnesses they ride stationary bikes in a betting parlor. But the grandmother and their faithful dog Bruno follow in hot pursuit, and with the help of the triplets of Belleville—three eccentric, spinster, burlesque buddies—they rescue Champion. This simple plot, though, does not even begin to suggest the surreal quality of this delightfully quirky film which deserves its uniformly rave reviews.