Okay, so I imagine most of you guys have absolutely no idea what this movie is, let alone what makes it so absolutely batshit insane that I had to make a review about it. And I don’t blame you. I’d never really heard of this movie either, at least until I saw it on a list of films put in contention for this year’s Best Animated Oscar. So let me spell out exactly how my ‘discovery’ of this film came about, much in the way of how a crew of poor hapless fools might ‘discover’ the entrance to Cthulu’s hidden temple.
See, I happen to quite a big film fan. More than that, I’m a big animated film fan, especially foreign animation. And I don’t mean just anime, I mean animated films from all sorts of different countries. I’ve enjoyed Chinese animation, Russian animation, Indies and lesser-known animated movies, the lot. And, since I was in the midst of gathering movies for my usual End-of-Year list for 2019 (since I’ve done similar lists in the past for 2016, 2017 and 2018), I figured I might as well give it a shot. After all, I do tend to find some interesting lesser-known films on the Oscar shortlist (like this year’s excellent underrated animated documentary, Another Day of Life) and this movie seemed interesting enough. It even had an English dub so I wouldn’t have to read subtitles. (Yes, I’m that kinda guy, shut up.)
Anyway, this is all basically my diplomatic way of saying I went into this movie completely blind. Fresh, or naive, if you will.
Because somehow, in all the research I did looking into this film, at all the reviews I skimmed trying to get an idea for this, somehow everyone failed to inform me that this movie was fucking insane. And I don’t mean in a ‘Whoa, this animation is wild and unhinged!’ sort of way. On the contrary, the animation is fairly flat and basic. However, it is this simple plain-looking demeanour that makes the actual content feel all the more absurd and hilariously bad. Like a creature wearing a slightly ill-fitting skinned human bodysuit over its flesh. It looks normal enough at a distance, but when you look closer, you realise ‘Oh wait, this is the craziest fucking thing I have ever seen and also it will probably eat my eyeballs if I let it.’
“Whatever could you mean, my friend? My interest in your delicious ocular jellies are merely educational in nature.”
Seriously, this movie is incredible. It’s about the titular Dilili, a half-French half-Kanak girl, exploring Paris in the 1890’s and meeting historical figures/seeing historical sights while attempting to solve the mystery of the mass kidnapping of little girls by a group called the ‘Male Masters’. (And if you think that name is a little on the nose, trust me when I say that’s only the tip of an iceberg that will eventually become amazing in its bafflingness.) Because while that description sounds like something reasonably normal, it does nothing to actually demonstrate the sheer baffling way in which all that plot is executed.
To put it simply, Dilili in Paris is like a weird cross between a children’s film, an educational movie about Paris/various historical figures and also a feminist piece all rolled into one and then translated to the big screen by a space alien who understands precisely how none of these things actually work. It is a terrible terrible movie and I loved it so much. How much do I love it? I thought it was a better ‘So Bad its Good’ experience than Cats. And I fucking loved Cats. Cats was amazingly bad on every level. Yet this movie completely came out of the blue to surpass it. And the only way to explain how is to have you join me on a journey through as I explain the entire movie in almost painstaking detail.
So let’s dive right in.
The movie starts with what at first glance appears to be Dilili living in a very stereotypical ‘native’ setting, complete with wooden huts, simple flute instruments and black people not wearing very many clothes. However, in one of the few interesting twists the movie has (or at least interesting on purpose), it’s revealed that this is actually all just a performance/human zoo set up in a park in 1890s Paris. This only emphasised when Orel, a young courier- who looks like he should be in a modern day boyband and has constantly pouty lips- attempts to ‘communicate’ with Dilili through broken English (or French, I assume in the French dub), only to find out that she speaks English perfectly. Take note of this, as it will be one of the few moments where this movie will actually make reference to racial issues in the 1890’s and, even more rarely, actually address a social issue with anything resembling basic competence.
Anyway, Orel wishes to meet with Dilili (using the very normal human wording of ‘I would like to learn more about you’) and she agrees to meet him once the performance is over and she can change into a very frilly white dress. It is at this meeting that we learn more about Dilili and that we also learn the writers of the movie (or more specifically whoever did the English translation for the dub) are incapable of writing a remotely normal conversation or dialogue that sounds like an actual human would say. Behold a word for word transcript of one portion of their conversation.
Orel: How are you ever able to learn my language so well?
Dilili: My school teacher was extremely good. Mrs Michelle. And then I had a wonderful encounter with *very strange pause* the Countess!
Orel: Who was she?
Dilili: She was the wife of an ambassador travelling back to Paris. On the same ship as us. It was this boat. I treasure this prospectus. A previous memory. The countess was attracted by the shouting *very strange pause* of the manager *second strange pause* as he discovered me.
This is not a conversation that normal people have. This is a conversation that aliens pretending to be normal people have. This is the sort of conversation you get by, I imagine, slamming the original French text into Google translate and going for it word by word. The delivery also does not help matters, as strangely bland and filled with odd pauses as it is. And sure, maybe this is just an issue with the English dub and it may be far superior in the original French, but trust me when I say there is a lot of weird stuff coming up in here that ‘translational difficulties’ cannot be the sole reason for. Also the animation is not great? It’s not terrible but it looks like it should be in a mid-tier indie game and is not very expressive. There is one moment where Orel (who constantly looks like he should be in a Twilight novel) offers Dilili chips and we get several seconds of her robotically eating chips one by one in a very repetitious movement.
Anyway, Dilili continues to explain her backstory and how she snuck aboard the aforementioned boat as a stowaway to be part of a travelling performance troupe and was eventually discovered and looked after by the aforementioned Countess. While she tells this story, she and Orel are less than subtly watched by a very creepy-looking man with a nose ring. Not long after, a Convenient Newspaper Salesman walks by shouting about how another young girl has been kidnapped by the ‘Male Masters’. Gosh, I wonder if that incredibly suspicious person who looks like the living manifestation of Stranger Danger might be involved?
Spoiler Alert: He is.
So back to the main plot, Dilili hears an explanation about this from Orel and decides very spontaneously to solve the mystery of Male Masters and free the kidnapped girls. She meets with Orel the next day and the two go sightseeing around Paris. It’s at this point that I had the revelation that this movie was very much taking on the tone of an educational video, what with all the mentions and explanations of famous historical figures and passing through many famous Paris sights. I even thought this might explain why the dialogue was so stilted and bizarrely delivered, as it was more designed to be easy to hear and understand by young children than anything else. This assumption would be hilariously abused about 10 minutes later, but I’ll get to that soon.
Anyway, Orel leaves Dilili on her own for a few minutes and the creepy nose ring guy makes an attempt to lure Dilili away in the creepiest, hammiest and most clearly suspicious way possible, pretending to fawn over her jump rope skills and ask her to jump into his arms so he can take her to a nearby toy stall (run by an equally creepy looking man) so he can buy her a toy. In fact, let me copy down his entire speech for you. Make sure to perform it in the most over-dramatically hammy way possible and you might get close to how it is portrayed in the movie.
Creepy Guy: Oh! My! Could it be you?! The skip-rope virtuoso herself! Oh, of course! I was admiring you yesterday while I was passing by! *Waves hands about* I was compleeetely amazed with you! I feel sooo lucky that I get to see you again! I am in need of the opinion of an expert! I am looking to purchase a skiprope for my goddaughter! Look! And there’s a toy booth over there! Please help me pick out the perfect skiprope for her and I will thaaank you by buying you a toy. *Extra creepily* You can pick aaaany one. *Reaches out to touch her* Oh come here… my sweet little fairy. I can carry you over there…
Note that Dilili does not say anything to this man during the entire conversation. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Dilili responds to this appropriately, in my opinion, by constantly staring at the man like she has no idea what the fuck he’s talking about (although that may just be a limit of the animation.) Then Orel comes back and scares him off.
The two realise that the incredibly suspicious man was clearly part of the Male Masters yet, instead of investigating the equally suspicious toy store owner (who even has the same nose ring), they decide to shrug it off and go meet Marie Curie, Picasso and bunch of famous French artists instead. The latter point them to a suspicious potential hideout of the Male Masters in fairly shady territory and the two go to investigate. This particular investigation leads to the very first moment in this film where things go truly off the rails and where I realised this wasn’t just an awkward stilted kids movie but a work of pure amazing insanity.
Basically, the two arrive at the hideout and Dilili goes in to investigate. About a second later, she runs back out, being chased by a wild guard dog (who is bright red for some reason). Orel kills the dog by kicking it (making him one of the few childrens film protagonists to have murdered a dog onscreen), but is bitten on the leg in the process. At which point we learn that the dog had rabies. So, to be clear, Orel now has rabies. A revelation that I responded to with the exact audible reaction of ‘Wait, fucking what?!’ Because yup, the main deuteragonist of the movie apparently just caught rabies and we’re not even past the 20 minute mark yet. And somehow things get even crazier from there.
The two notice that Orel hasn’t developed the typical symptoms of rabies yet, suggesting he might not have been properly infected. To make sure, Orel suggests that they visit the lab of famed historical scientist Louis Pasteur. However, with his leg injured, Orel can’t pedal his tricycle/cart to get there. Dillil tries to call for help from nearby townsfolk, but apparently yelling ‘Hurry! He has got the rabies!’ is not the most persuasive of arguments, since they all immediately run away. Anyway, since the route is mostly downhill and would require little physical strength, Dilili offers to pedal him there. What follows is about a minute or two of them cartwheeling quickly down the hill, barely avoiding crashing and getting the crowds out of the way by- no fucking joke here- having Orel scream ‘I HAVE RABIES!!’ at random passerbys over and over again at the top of his lungs. It was surreal as hell, to tell you the least, and I may have coughed up a lung laughing hysterically at it.
“I HAVE RABIES! I HAVE RABIES! I- Hey Dilili, is it just me or is this fucking insane?”
Anyway, after that bit of… excitement? Is excitement the word? I don’t think it is. Anyway after that… ‘thing that happened’, they reach Pasteur’s lab, Orel is given the medicine he needs and things return to a given definition of ‘normal’.The two decide to go visit a friend of Orel’s, the famous French opera singer Emma Calve because… reasons? I don’t know. This movie doesn’t so much run on plot progression as much as it does cramming as many possible famous historical figures in the process of inching the plot forward. If Dilili ever needed to go to the store to buy some eggs, she’d probably run into at least three famous Parisians on the way there. Anyway, while there, they meet Calve’s ill-tempered driver LeBoeuf, who’s kind of a racist dick, albeit in a very ‘kids movie ‘trying’ to be subtle about racism’ sort of way. I believe his precise words when meeting Dilili are “Why is *strange pause* that girl dressed up like that?” which is a bit dickish. Although, to be fair, it might be less racism and more just criticising her outfit. That’s a lot of frills, Dilili.
Anyway, then she gets him back with a legitimately kinda funny burn about him looking like a pig and then he tries to slap her, before Orel intervenes.
Orel: “What do you intend? Would you hurt this small child?
LeBeouf: “You call this a small child?”
Anyway, the subject then incredibly abruptly changes and Orel asks where Madam Calve is. LeBoeuf blows them off because, as mentioned, he’s kind of a dick and the two go into an opera house to search for her. While searching, Orel states that he’s glad Dilili didn’t call him a pig, to which she responds that apparently everyone in Paris looks like a pig to her, which what the fuck Dilili?! That’s a fairly hateful thing to say. So much for this being a tolerant kid’s film. Anyway, the two find Miss Calve singing down in the basement in a boat shaped like a swan, in a giant blue underground pool that I guess exists down there? Anyway, it turns out that Pasteur gave Orel a vaccine for cows that he wants delivered to the countryside and the reason the two came to visit Miss Calve was so they could travel there by her dinky little swan boat that travels through the sewers. Because apparently, that’s the best route of transport through France? Whatever. I guess the rabies trick wouldn’t work twice.
Anyway the two complain about LeBoeuf to Miss Calve (although Dilili dismisses it with the shockingly cynical “That’s life”) and Miss Calve offers Dilili an apology and a hug. At this point, we learn that apparently Dilili has no idea what a hug is, which… what?! I’ll confess I don’t know much about the Kanak people or their culture, but I feel like a hug is a pretty universal thing. Yet according to Dilili ‘No-one has ever taught me this concept before? It is excellent!’ Seriously, how do the Kanak’s hold their children? Constantly at arms length? That seems incorrect. Anyway, Dilili hugs Miss Calve and, while in a better movie this might be a warm and comforting experience for her, in this movie, the limited animation means that comes off every bit as stiff and uncomfortable as you might expect from a slightly uncomfortable child who has no idea how hugs work attempting to hug a fully grown woman who she met about 2 minutes ago.
Anyway, Miss Calve sings a bit of opera, Orel turns out to have a singing voice that sounds absolutely nothing like his normal voice and the group pass by a weird submarine ship thing that is also travelling in the sewers. Nothing actually comes of that mind and they don’t bother discussing it, but I feel I’m somewhat used to that now. The two also meet the painters Monet and Renoir, who Miss Calve sums up as ‘Monet is all about colours. Renoir is all about happiness’. Which, I’ll confess to not being much of an expert on art, but I feel is probably an oversimplification of their work. However Dilili states, again shockingly cynically, that there is ‘no more happiness’ because of the Male Masters. Anyway, the painters tell her that the Male Masters are using the Moulin Rouge hideout. And also the submarine appears again. Is it going to be an important plot-relevant part of this story? Nope. It’s just a creepy submarine that the Male Masters have for some reason
Dilili and Orel vow to infiltrate the Moulin Rouge, but it is pointed out that they are too young to enter. However, Orel insists he has a way to sneak inside, with a not at all creepy look on his face. The aforementioned secret way in turns out to be just to go backstage, which is simultaneously very relieving and also a bit of a letdown. Anyway, while there, the two meet one of the performers at the Moulin Rouge, Collette. We also possibly get the world’s first kids-friendly description of a burlesque show, when Collette describes her Egyptian performance.
Collette: I show my body a little bit during the dance, because it is beautiful.
Dilili: *clearly having no idea what the fuck she’s talking about* It is very nice of you.
Collette: It’s an interesting activity.
Anyway, Collette explains that there are no Male Masters involved in the actual running of the Moulin Rouge, but they do gather in the audience a lot. And also another friend of Orel’s, famed historical artist Toulouse-Lautrec, is there, drawing the dancing girls doing the cancan. Which absolutely does not feel like a kids friendly sort of introduction to a heroic character, but whatever. Lautrec identifies one of the Male Masters for the group and Dilili sneaks under the table to eavesdrop on them plotting their next robbery. One of the group is told to wait for further instruction at the Irish-American bar. Dilili then sneaks back and relays this information to her comrades through the surprisngly hilarious method of mumbling “Mrsha-mrsha-mrsha *incredibly clearly* Irish-American Bar! *back to mumbling* mrsha-mrsha.”
Anyway, while she’s conveying this extremely important information, Dilili is spotted by one of the Moulin Rouge’s staff and we get the following-
Waiter: Goooodness! What is this little girl doing in here?
Dilili: *putting hands on hips* Well, she is enjoying a very excellent show!
Waiter: Which wasn’t designed for children to see!
Dilili: What do you mean, children can’t see? I can see that these ladies are beautiful and dance perfectly well.
Good for you, Dilili. You be all sex positive.
The group leave (including Mr Lautrec) and go to the Irish American bar. Outside, a random stranger comes along and tells Mr Lautrec that his creations have personality and that his talent is admirable and then immediately leaves before anyone else can respond or say anything. Turns out it was famous painter and critic, Degas, who has very high standards. What does this have to do with the rest of the story? Absolutely nothing. They give Mr Lautrec a lift on the tricycle, he hears about how they went down the stairs during the whole ‘rabies’ thing (and apparently ‘hurt their bottoms’ in the process) and insists they give it a try themselves. Which seems incredibly dangerous, but whatever. We’re here to learn about French Historical figures, not traffic safety.
They reach the Irish-American bar, narrowly avoiding mowing down pedestrians and/or crashing into a painful death, and Dilili meets Chocolat, a black clown, whose profession is explained as ‘People kick my bottom and it makes the audience happy.” Which, y’know, sounds more like a performance that belongs at the Moulin Rouge than anything else. (“What a trade!” Dilili exclaims happily.) The group spot the Male Master hiding behind an incredible conspicuous bush. Dilili hides inside the aforementioned bush to overhear their plot to rob a jewelery store and steal Sarah Bernhardt’s jewels, with a getaway carriage and a secret tool hidden behind the Gate of Hell (a sculpture by Rodan). We get a repetition of Dilili’s incredibly exposition abilities (“Mrsha-mrsha-mrsha *clearly* Sarah Bernhardt *mumbling* Mrsha-mrsha-mrsha *clearly* the Gate of Hell!) as she explains it to her group and they head off to try and stop the robbery.
They start by sensibly trying to go to the police, but the commissioner doesn’t believe their story and has them thrown out. Instead they decide to go warn Sarah Bernhardt directly, but apparently she’s one of the few famous people in the city who Orel doesn’t know. However, he does know someone who knows her, Marcelle Proust. On the way there, they discuss their dream jobs. Orel points out how Dilili’s dream job seems to change all the time, from a singer to an actress to a scientist and so on. Dilili counters by saying it doesn’t change, she just plans on doing them all. Orel meanwhile wants to continue pedalling through Paris, become a singer and a dancer and we also learn completely out of nowhere that he has been saving money to study law because “*incredibly seriously* Injustice outrages me and justice interests me.”
On an unrelated note, I don’t know about you guys, but I think Robert Pattison is going to do a great job as Batman.
Anyway, the two meet Marcelle Proust and tell him what’s going on. He goes to telephone Sarah Bernhardt to get her to stay home and avoid the robbery. However, we learn that this did not work in this amazing bit of exposition in the next scene, while Orel and Dilili are tricycling down the street.
Dilili: “With Sarah Bernhardt, *strange pause* we failed!
Orel: That is typical of Sarah Bernhardt! Danger or not, she’ll be there! Her motto is ‘All the stage’!
Anyway, the two quickly visit Rodan to try and retrieve the secret weapon hidden behind the Gate of Hell, but are too late to stop the Male Master escaping with it in a briefcase. What is this amazing secret weapon, I hear you ask?! We…. never find out. Seriously, it doesn’t appear again and nobody ever brings it up. We don’t even get to see what was in the briefcase. Wait, hang on, was it the briefcase itself that was the ‘secret weapon’? Having a satchel to carry something in isn’t a secret weapon guys, let alone something important enough to need to hide somewhere! Ah whatever, this isn’t going to be remotely the stupidest thing involving the Male Masters in this movie.
But no time for that! We’ve got another kidnapping attempt on Dilili to see. And somehow this one is even more surreal than Operation ‘Compliment her jump-rope skills and try to take her to a toy store.’ Dilili is waiting alone on some steps when an old man with a cane passes by and compliments her. Then he falls over in a shockingly violent (and hilarious) way. Dilili naturally goes to help him, but then notices something and backs away. What hidden clue did she see to deduce that this man was a villain? He was wearing a nose ring. Aka, the one sole defining feature that would identify him as a Male Master. Because, as the name of their organisation might suggest, these guys are very much not smart. (Although trust me, we haven’t even begun to dig into that yet. Just wait until we get to their ‘master plan’.) It doesn’t help that when Dilili accuses him, he protests that ‘I’m just a poor old man’ in the most suspicious voice possible. Anyway Orel turns up and the guy immediately hilariously jumps to his feet and runs away. The two don’t bother chasing him, obviously, because that would progress the plot too quickly and also wouldn’t require visiting about a dozen random famous historical figures first.
Anyway, the two go to the jewelery store where the robbery is due to take place. They see first a Male Master enter (with a second waiting outside in a getaway carriage), followed by Sarah Bernhardt, wearing a veiled hat and walking like she is completely unable to see out of it. Dilili distracts the bad guy in the getaway carriage with some admittedly legit impressive jumprope skills (even if the ‘Ooohs’ and “Aaahs’ from the guy are a bit much), while Orel sabotages his cart. Then the first Male Master reappears, having somehow robbed the place offscreen and Dilili trips him with her jumprope, revealing a bunch of jewels in his bag (and a gas mask for some reason? Was that the secret weapon? Or did Sarah Bernhardt just have that hidden with her jewels?). The two Male Masters attempt to escape from the store’s guards, but Orel had untied the horses from the cart, causing them to go nowhere and to get arrested.
Then Prince Edward, Prince of Wales and Heir to the English throne turns up. Why? No real reason. Dilili just wanted her jumprope back and the policeman was being a dick about it, so he intervened. He also gets a hilarious unintentional burn on Dilili as well.
Edward: *to Orel* Young man, let me congratulate you on your swiftness and your ability to unharness a horse without unnecessary movements and in complete silence. *To Dilili* And you, young lady, on your jump-rope abilities.”
Also I can only assume the makers of this film are not fans of the monarchy, as they describe Edward’s job as following.
Dilili: What do you do?
Edward: Not much, to be honest.
Dilili: How do you make a living?
Edward: My mother sends me money.
Then a crowd, a photographer and a bunch of reporters appear out of nowhere and the English national anthem starts playing in the background. What does this random encounter have to do with anything in this story? Absolutely nothing. Let’s move on.
Anyway, news gets around of Dilili’s foiling of the robbery and she becomes a big sensation in Paris. Of course, this also makes her a big target for the Male Masters. As such, Miss Calve insists that she be protected and escorted home by LeBeouf. Unfortunately, it turns out that leaving the security of a vulnerable girl to a racist, sexist asshole is probably a bad move as he is soon approached by one of the Male Masters, who attempts to recruit LeBeouf to their cause, offering him a position in their organisation if he delivers Dilili to them. Naturally, Dilili does not get home that night.
What’s that? You mean this guy ‘isn’t’ a pillar of virtue?
Hours pass and both Orel and Miss Calve worry when they hear no word from Dilili or LeBeouf. A brief search for them proves unsuccessful. However, not long after, LeBeouf returns, looking bashful and saying that he has an important tale to tell them. And what follows might be the most amazingly batshit insane WTF evil plan in a kids film that I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I don’t mean to hype you up, but this is what propelled the movie to me from ‘weird awkward kids’ film, to ‘work of absolute insanity’. And it is amazing to hear.
See, LeBeouf drops Dilili off at the Male Master headquarters like he was told to and Dilili is snatched by them. Then LeBeouf is escorted by the Male Master who recruited him to meet the leader of their organisation, who is predictably a tremendously fat dude dressed in stupid robes. However, when LeBeouf enters the headquarters, he sees that there are a lot of strange black mounds around the place, that people are sitting on or doing work at and so on and so forth. The Fat Leader of the Male Masters offers LeBeouf a seat on one of these mounds, all while he gives the traditional asshole misogynist rant about women having too much freedom/power/whatever by being allowed to go to university/have jobs/do anything meaningful. Le Beouf seems more uncomfortable than enthused by all this and notes that there seem to be no women at the Male Master Headquarters.
This is when we get the big reveal.
Now at this point, I expect most of you have put two and two together regarding the Male Masters and what they intend to do with the girls they kidnap. After all, they call themselves the ‘Male Masters’ and are not exactly subtle about their misogyny, general hatred of feminism/women and how they will ‘purify putrid Paris’. With all that in mind, it’s easy to assume they’re kidnapping the girls so they can brainwash them into become their perfect ideal of a docile submissive woman, right? And, to be fair, you’d be about half right on that front. Unfortunately, it’s that other half that separates this from ‘Vaguely competent if a little preachy feminist message’ to ‘Alien attempting to replicate your ‘human feminisms’’. And it starts right from this point.
Male Master: “What do you mean there are no women? After all, you are sitting on one!”
Oh. Oh no.
Yeah. Oh yeah. Those strange black mounds I was talking about earlier, that everyone was sitting on? Those are living fucking people! Kidnapped women dressed in concealing black shrouds and made to crawl around on their hands and knees to act as furniture to the Male Masters. Which I mean in both a metaphorical and a far too literal way! And somehow that’s not even the worst of it. Because you see, according to the Male Masters, ‘woman’ is not the correct term for a female. No, the correct term for them is ‘fourlegs’ because, unlike men, their natural evolutionary state is on all fours (and that them standing on two legs is an affront), thus they must crawl around, while also not being allowed to raise their head or look at the men who are now sitting on them. And their grand plan in regards to kidnapping all these little girls is to brainwash and raise them into becoming their fourlegs, so they’ll grow up ‘properly’. Assuming things go well, soon all the women in Paris will be reduced to their proper state as fourlegs and act as literal human furniture for the men.
That is the Male Masters grand plan, which according to them will bring order to Paris.
I HAVE QUESTIONS.
Okay, first of all, what the fuck? Second of all, no seriously what the fuck?! Who in-universe thought this would be a good plan? Even ignoring for a moment, the basic problem with… just all of this, trust me when I say that as someone who grew up with his fair share of sibling scuffles, sitting on a human being is not all that comfortable! Which Male Master looked at a chair and thought ‘Hmm yes I like this, but what I feel it’s really missing is to be more boney, unstable and significantly more prone to sudden collapse and/or death.’ And why did all the other Male Masters go along it instead of throwing the idiot into an insane asylum? How did the mantra of ‘Hey guys, let’s turn women into literal chairs!’ garner so much support as to give the Male Masters the power they have in Paris?! They literally have hundreds and thousands of people working for them, including- as we learn later- some very powerful and influential figures. Did all of these people look at this ideology and think ‘Yes, this idea of sitting on women (for once in a completely non-sexual meaning) really appeals to me’?!
On that same point, people are really fucking heavy! I’m a fully grown man myself and I would struggle to carry someone the same size as me, let alone act as a seat for them for presumably hours on end. What hope are little girls going to have to carry a fat bastard like the Male Master leader for almost any substantial period of time, let alone all the fat bastards in Paris? All this plan has managed to create is a replacement for chairs that are objectively worse than chairs in almost every single measure!
And you know what’s even weirder? According to the Fat Master’s speech to LeBeouf, one of their main problems right now is a severe shortage of ‘fourlegs’! Why do you need to sit on people so badly, Male Master?! Why can you not use regular chairs as at least a stopgap while you carry out your plan?! Are you that dedicated to your insane doctrine? Are real chairs and furniture heretical to you?! Do you have to burn them in your fucking sacrament?!
Come to think about it, exactly what kind of furniture are these ‘fourlegs’ going to be used for? We see them on-screen being used as chairs and tables, but will there be other stuff as well? Will we have fourlegs beds? People cupboards? Will they teach the little girls to form human pyramids and create a wardrobe? What about existing furniture? Will they just get rid of all existing chairs and tables and replace them with fourlegs? Will they replace car seats? Public benches? Will ordinary chairs be outlawed? Are we even allowed to bring cushions or is that an affront to the Male Masters doctrine?
Phew. Okay. Okay, I’m calm. I’m calm.
Take a deep breath in… and out…
I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS.
Considering the importance of women in keeping a healthy population, how is pregnancy in this world going to work? I’m no expert on women’s health, but I am pretty certain that constantly crawling 24/7 on your hands and knees and being sat on by very fat men is absolutely not going to result in a healthy birth! Wait, for that matter, how are they going to get pregnant in the first place? Women (or ’Fourlegs’) in the Male Master’s minds are so low socially that they are regarded as only being useful as chairs and furniture. Are they now also going to fuck them? This is a question I never wanted to ask, but are the Male Masters going to fuck their chairs?!
Hell, have they already fucked other chairs, before they even started this scheme? Not kidnapped women mind, I mean literal physical actual chairs?! Were the Male Masters founded by a group of chair-fuckers?! Chair-fuckers who created an entire criminal conspiracy around their chair-fucking? Was this all just one man’s weird fetish that grew horrendously out of control?! It’s the only barely feasible explanation I can come up with for any of this! Was the Male Master’s entire criminal masterplan created all so they would have an excuse to fuck their chairs?! These are questions that I do not want to consider, yet cannot stop asking!!
Anyway, now that I’ve finished pointing out the in-universe problems with idea I feel I have to ask, who out-of-universe thought this was a good plan? Who thought ‘Hmm, yes, what this kids movie about a delightful young girl travelling through Paris meeting real-life historical figures was missing was a subplot about turning little girls into human chairs!’ A subplot that, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, would somehow be less creepy if they murdered the children first! Who thought this was a good feminist message? Why did you think that a child’s first introduction to misogyny should be ‘Hey kids, if you’re not careful about fighting for Women’s Rights, Male Masters will turn you into literal furniture that, if you’re watching with an adult’s perspective, they may then fuck later!!’
Seriously, I might have at some point considered this entire subplot and the concept of the Male Masters in general to be preachy and strawman-ish, but I can’t consider that any more. Because it’s too freaking insane for that!!! To be insulted by a Strawman, you have to actually take the Strawman seriously and it is physically impossible to do that with this. This whole plot is so insanely over-the-top that it goes from preachy to just hilarious. Like a Chick-Tract without the hate and just the goofy shit. It’s not a Strawman, it’s a weird Straw Demon from the Outer Realms that’s here to eat your skin for feminism! What the fuck even is this movie?!
Seriously though, this shit be crazy.
Anyway, back to the actual movie itself, LeBeouf hears all this and then proceeds to prove himself the most sensible, sympathetic and realistic person in this entire movie by immediately coming to the conclusion that these guys are fucking insane and that he wants no goddamn part in this. So he makes his excuses, leaves and goes straight back home to explain the entire story to Orel and Miss Calve, both of whom have the exact same ‘What the fuck did I just hear?’ look on their face that I did when I first watched this movie.
The look of two people who were absolutely not expecting today.
While LeBeouf makes his apologies to Madam Calve, Orel goes into the sewers in search of clues for Dilili’s location. While down there, he finds torn scraps of her notebook, used to make a trail to where the Male Masters have taken her. He brings Madam Calve and LeBeouf and they find a peephole where they can spy on the ‘fourlegs training camp’ that the Male Masters have set up in the sewers, run by a miserly old woman who seems completely on board with the Male Masters ideology for some reason. Why? I can only assume, but it’s probably a fetish thing.
Anyway, the aforementioned training mainly just consists of the girls crawling around while wearing black shrouds. Dilili is among the group but quickly decides ‘fuck this shit’, stands up on her two legs (*gasp!*), proclaims that they will not keep her and jumps into the sewage to escape. The Male Masters aren’t too concerned about this and expect her to drown, since they have a grate blocking the exit. Of course, that’s not much of a problem for Dilili, as Orel, Madam Calve and LeBeouf quickly appear to help her. Not that they really needed to, since the grate is apparently wide enough that she could basically have pulled herself through anyway with a bit of effort. Guess you didn’t think about that, Male Masters, in your grand plan to brainwash little girls into becoming chairs for you to sit on and- No, no, don’t get drawn back into thinking about that again. Down that path leads only madness.
Once back with her friends, despite her initial tough front, Dilili is actually understandably somewhat traumatised by the whole kidnapping thing and the three give her a hug to comfort her. She complains because she is still covered in excrement but, as LeBeouf puts it, “The actual poop are those men over there!” Dilili then very promptly stops crying and the group heads to Madam Calve’s home, to take a bath and also to dress Dilili like a parrot. No really, that happens for some reason. Apparently the only spare clothes they had in the house were a parrot costume, a prince costume for Orel and some kind of weird Russian pope outfit for LeBeouf. Because I guess that’s all Madam Calve wears…? They switch back to their normal clothes about two scenes later though, making this entire distraction pointless. I guess they just wanted to dress Dilili up as parrot. Why, I hear you wonder? Are you really asking that of a movie with villains who fuck furniture?
Somehow, this isn’t remotely the weirdest thing I’ve seen today.
Anyway, the group makes a plan to try and rescue the other girls captured by the Male Masters, via an airship. To find the above ground chimney leading to the sewers, the group visits Mr Eiffel in the Eiffel Tower, because let’s not let complete utter insanity derail us from this movie’s traditional structure of visiting about 5 famous people per meaningful plot beat. Anyway, while plotting, they also discover that the police commissioner is working with the Male Masters. They learn this by peaking into his window and seeing him meeting in his study with several other Male Masters while also sitting on ‘fourlegs’. This scene is especially galling to me because we can clearly there are actual chairs in the meeting room they’re gathered in! Comfy looking ones too! I know you guys are dedicated to your craft, but this cannot be a better option than actual seats!
What about the skinned leopard on the floor? Is that a fourlegs too? Do animals count as fourlegs? Are they allowed to sit on animals? I have too many questions!!
Anyway, the group invites Sarah Bernhardt, Marie Curie and Countess Louise Michelle together to plot against the Male Masters. This mainly consists of the group coming up with a solution involving a friendly unnamed lieutenant colonel in the army who we’ve never met, all while Dilili rides around on Sarah’s pet cheetah (don’t ask). Dilili states about the conversation that “Sometimes I do not understand a single thing.” You and me both, Dilili. You and me both.
Anyway, it’s time for the big rescue of the kidnapped girls. But not before Dilili gets a new costume from a famous costumer, Paul Poiret! A costume that basically consists of him wrapping some gold ribbons around her. Truly a master costumer, you are, Paul. He also gives her a decoration to put in her hair after her victory. In a competent movie, this would probably be a Chekov’s Gun that Dilili will need to use at some key moment during the rescue to help everything go off successfully. Here? Nope. It’s just a hair decoration.
Unsurprisingly, the plan goes off without a hitch. They climb down the chimney, tie up the old female overseer (No you fools! She probably enjoys it!), liberate the girls, get them up the chimney onto the airship (while Madam Calve and the pilot give a weird and unique introduction to each and every girl), set a fire to slow down the Male Master guards and cover their escape, before flying back home to on the airship while singing. Specifically, singing in a heavenly choir that absolutely does not sound like actual children, let alone ones who have been enslaved and crawling around on all fours for weeks. Also apparently LeBeouf has a fucking operatic tenor. They also pass by the Eiffel Tower and a group of surprisingly underwhelmed rich people eating dinner (specifically some very weird kind of bird) who comment very awkwardly on the situation and sing along with a similarly unrealistically heavenly tone. Oh and Dilili puts her incredibly plot-relevant hair decoration in her hair.
Truly, the real pressing question here.
Anyway, the kids reunite with their parents and we get a bunch of very questionable child voice actors complimenting Dilili from offscreen. Dilili insists that she did not do it alone and Orel, LeBeouf and Madam Calve all assure her she indeed was not alone (with the latter veeery awkwardly cradling her cheek.) Dilili states- in what is theoretially a conclusion, but could also be taken as a threat- that ‘Sometimes life turns out to be perfectly satisfying. And it is only *strange pause* the beginning!’
And so the movie ends, with Dilili smiling creepily into the camera, much like she has been smiling creepily into our souls…
“Your ocular jelly was most delicious.” *slurping sound*
But wait, I hear you wondering. What happened to the Male Masters? Are they still hiding in Paris’s sewers, waiting for their chance to strike and have sex with your lounge chair? Well, according to a commentary over the credits, they all got arrested offscreen by the unnamed lieutenant colonel and the other women they kidnapped are all rescued. LeBoeuf even rescues and marries the woman he sat on back in the Male Masters lair. Truly, a love story for the ages. Also Madam Calve gave all the kidnapped girls colourful dresses so they could dance in the credits.
So yeah, that was Dilili in Paris. And it was amazing.
Seriously, this movie was absolutely hilarious. Hilarious for entirely all the wrong reasons, admittedly, but hilarious nonetheless. I laughed so hard when I first watched this movie that I was wheezing. I may have spent the last- *checks word count* Jesus, 7500 words?!- 7500 words mercilessly roasting it, but I did it entirely out of a place of love. Because I legitimately love this movie. I love its weird awkward dialogue, its somewhat stilted animation, the absolute structureless mess of a plot, its terrible attempts at a feminist message and the sheer insanity that was the grand furniture-fucking plot of the Male Masters. I thought Cats was going to be by far the best ‘So Bad it’s Good’ movie I saw all year, but this gives it a damn good run for its money.
Seriously, if you’re the sort of person who enjoys ‘So Bad it’s Good’ movies then definitely check it out. And if you’re not, grab some mates, a lot of beer and watch it anyway while mercilessly roasting it. Because it’s just that kind of movie.