It’s the year 1910; the Seine is overflowing and Paris is drowning. Shy filmmaker Emile (Harrington), and cocky inventor Raoul (Goldberg), get into trouble while delivering a parcel to a genius scientist’s lab. Instead of the scientist, they find his pet monkey waiting for them with orders to take the parcel from Raoul without allowing him inside. Raoul barges in anyway, tells Emile to film him, and he proceeds to tinker with the various concoctions and potions while completely ignoring the various warnings inscribed on their tags.

His meddling results in an explosion, a worse-for-wear lab and a red-eyed flea, which is magically engorged to over six feet and promptly leaps out of the lab to stalk the streets of Paris. The monster manages to throw the city into a tizzy, making the front page and causing Maynott (Huston), a senior government official, to start a vendetta calling for the monster’s death.

Enter Lucille (Paradis), the star singer at the local cabaret that Maynott takes a fancy to. She encounters the monster outside of her stoop and after being momentarily terrified, is swayed by the flea’s beautiful voice and gentle lyrics. She invites him into her house, outfits him in a suit and hat to make him less conspicuous, and gives him a job as a guitarist in the cabaret. However, his disguise doesn’t hold for long, and soon Lucille is forced to enlist Emile and Raoul’s help to keep the monster, now named Francoeur (Lennon), from being killed by Maynott.

The film is charming and has a lot in common with classic Disney musicals, but it never reaches the heights of films like Beauty and the Beast. Set in a vaguely art nouveau-flavoured France, the film is visually very simple, but it owns its simplicity so it never once feels like a shortcoming. The songs are gorgeous in their sparseness. They don’t get the audio/visual bombastic treatment that Disney gives its songs, but they’re nearly as magical anyway and every bit as catchy. Paradis and Lennon’s voices go together perfectly and the scenes in which Lucille and Francoeur perform together are probably the most charming. The script is pretty funny and Raoul’s lines in particular illicit some of the biggest laughs. A special mention has to go out to the monkey’s character that, armed with note cards for every occasion, is probably even more amusing than the humans.

A Monster in Paris is sweetly old-fashioned to the point where it may not grab the interest of younger viewers, who are probably used to the whole razzle-dazzle quality of animations nowadays. It should warm the hearts of older ones, though; especially those immune to Parisian charm. It’s quaint, a little rustic but magical in its own way.