This paragraph from Roger Ebert's review expresses much of my reaction (as indeed does the whole review):
I am completely failing to do justice to this film. Now you think it is about frog torture. I will get letters from PETA. What happens to the frogs is nothing compared to what happens to the grandson, who is subjected to Rube Goldberg exercise machines, and at one point, has his kneecaps vacuumed.
I can't quite figure out whether I liked it or not, or whether I would want to see it again. From MRQE's list of reviews, it seems that critical consensus is equally mixed--some reviewers loved it and some absolutely hated it.
I'm also not sure what I think it's about, beyond the basics of the plot. Here are some (possibly spoilerful) clues that I picked up; I don't know if they mean anything.
- There's a recurring motif of transportation: trains, planes, ships, bicycles, cars. What does it mean that Bruno barks at every single train?
- There's also a recurring motif of music. In particular, I think it's significant that Madame Souza is incompetent at the piano, but plays very well on the bicycle wheel, and although the Triplets have a piano, a saxophone, and a bagpipe in their house, they perform their concert with refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, and newspaper.
- Champion, the grandson, is extremely passive. After his childhood, he hardly does anything but bicycle. Even when he sees the other bicyclists in the truck, he shows no reaction.