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A French family has its hands full when it adopts a needy cocker spaniel in BOULE AND BILL

A French family has its hands full when it adopts a needy cocker spaniel in BOULE & BILL

BILLY & BUDDY (BOULE & BILL) (Alexandre Charlot & Franck Magnier, 2013)
Quad Cinema
34 West 13th St.
November 8-14

In 1976 France, it’s love at first sight when eight-year-old Boule (Charles Crombez) sets his eyes on cocker spaniel Bill (voiced by Manu Payet) in Alexandre Charlot and Franck Magnier’s utterly delightful Boule & Bill, based on Jean Roba and Maurice Rosy’s popular comic strip. While Boule’s mother (Marina Foïs), a piano teacher, wants to adopt the dog for her son, his father (Franck Dubosc) is firmly against it. He’s not exactly in favor of adding a lost tortoise, Caroline (voiced by Sara Giraudeau), to the family either. Soon Bill and Caroline are on their way home with the clan, but Boule’s father, a stick-in-the-mud appliance designer, immediately begins planning how to get rid of the dog, even moving the family to an oddball apartment complex in the middle of nowhere. Once there, Bill continues wreaking havoc, including perpetually annoying the depressive neighbor (Nicolas Vaude) one floor below. Meanwhile, Caroline falls madly in love with Bill. But when Boule and Bill go too far, his parents begin considering whether they have to give the dog away. From the opening scene, it’s apparent that Boule & Bill is no mere silly kiddie movie, as Mother, Father, and Son are in their little red car, singing a song about male genitalia. Charlot and Franck, who previously collaborated on Imogène McCarthery, load the charming tale with laugh-out-loud flourishes, from the mother’s encounters with the downstairs depressive to Bill’s turning himself into a stuffed animal in an emergency. A series of brief dream sequences, along with several plot twists, feel forced and unnecessary, but Charlot and Franck always manage to turn things around and get back on track. And they really have a ball with Bill’s deepest dog thoughts, reminiscent of Jean Shepherd’s narration in A Christmas Story. Running at the Quad November 8-14, Boule & Bill is a colorful, fun adventure that is more than just your average boy meets dog movie.

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