Consider “The Painting,” the fourth feature by slow-moving 74-year-old French director Jean-François Laguionie, a twee “Wreck-It Ralph.” Inside a primitive portrait, the subjects are divided into three canvas castes: Sketchies, wraith-like creatures made of pencil lines; Halfies, who were left half-painted; and their snobbish overlords, the Alldunns, who sneer at the incompletes from their castle in the upper left corner of the frame.
The metaphors keep coming. When an Alldunn boy falls for a Halfie girl, he insists to his pals that their Creator — the painter — will some day return to set the world right. To prove it, they venture beyond their border to explore the other artworks in the studio, which include a battlefield scene, a self-portrait, and a nude. Don’t let the breasts keep you from bringing the kids — by the time the mammaries show up, the tykes will probably already be asleep.
Laguionie’s animation is a lovely jumble of thick lines and saturated pastels, and there’s a neat minute when a giant flower looms over one of the lovebirds with the calm curiosity of Hal from “2001.” But while the artist-as-deity concept was flattering enough to get “The Painting” nominated for a 2012 Cesar Award, its big ideas about equality and friendship are flatly 2-D.
— Amy Nicholson
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 19 minutes.
Playing: At the Landmark Nuart, Los Angeles.