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A French public servant from Provence is banished to the far North. Strongly prejudiced against this cold and inhospitable place, he leaves his family behind to relocate temporarily there, with the firm intent to quickly come back.
Catherine, refuses to believe that her business partner, the unlikeable François, has a best friend, so she challenges him to set up an introduction. Scrambling to find someone willing to pose as his best pal, François enlists the services of a charming taxi driver to play the part.
Romain Faubert is a 39 year old, single, medical photographer.. and a raging hypochondriac. His doctor and only friend Dr. Dimitri Zvenka, thinks he knows a cure for Romain: dating. But with the arrival of freedom fighter Anton Miroslav, everyone might get more then they bargained for..Written by
Ten minutes of endless laughs... until the concept runs out of ideas and gets timidly conventional or ridiculous over-the-top...
What a lousy and infuriating comedy! Right now, I have a thought for all the struggling screenwriters who'll probably never have the chance to see their projects gracing the screen, because what they lack is not talent, but a name. It's so unfortunate that we must endure such pointless movies just because their makers asserted their bankability once. I know Cinema is a cash-grabbing industry but must that be at the expenses of good taste and fun?
Dany Boon made a name for himself, when he made the film about 'Northern People', the "Ch'tis", it ended up being the highest-grossing French film ever, but I suspect many classics from the 80's/90's would have had extra viewers if they had the chance to be released in the Internet era. Never mind, Boon succeeded and the young comedian surely earned it, he was like the Cinderella figure of comedians, a popular figure for popular movies, and I still remember the backlash over the lack of nominations for his money-making film (except for Best Screenplay) and I thought that the comedian sinned by egomania because the film was nothing revolutionary on the field of acting, directing and writing, and many comedies were nominated in the past and deservedly so, "The Visitors", "Amelie" or "Intouchables", to name them.
But in France, when you get the money, you get the power, and after the 'Ch'tis", any project led by Dany Boon was a cash-flow guarantee, he oozed success and how couldn't he, with his buffoonish face and mimics, he's a comedian who finds the perfect note to appeal to both children and grown-ups, and by playing the straight guy, Kad Merad efficiently completes him. So there was no reason for a story of a hypochondriac guy and his friend, a doctor, wouldn't be a source of hilarious gags. And it starts very well, until it finally sinks in the ridiculous addition of a love story and some mistaken identities' subplots involving immigrants from Eastern Europe, it goes everywhere but ultimately nowhere.
The film is cruelly misleading because it features some of the best visual gags in the beginning, a man who's so scared of germs he avoids the New Year's countdown because he can't kiss all the guests and ruin the parties in the worst possible way, his ballet in the Parisian subway in order to avoid the poles is a magnificent example of slapstick and silent comedy that even afforded a funny punch line. And Boon enriches his characters with delightful verbal bits, he's a photograph for a medical book, which explains his phobia and in a waiting room, he tells the patients that the room is just a scheme in order to provoke a general contamination, and keep people sick. At this moment, I knew I was watching a monument of comedy and that the film made 5 millions viewers was even more encouraging.
The character was funny, touching and worked as a perfect foil for an original plot, but slowly, the whole fun disintegrates and the comedy derails toward "the man must find a woman in his life": that becomes his priority, but wouldn't we care more for his hypochondria? Anyway, the romantic stuff starts well with a few failing dates that overly exaggerated his mania, and then the film gets mixed in the political subplot, where Boon pretends to be a refugee and must pull an accent to fool his friend's sister, well, at that point, I didn't think the film was going to improve, the best gags were far behind. The film had a great concept and I suspect the best ideas were put in the first draft and only made twenty pages so they had to stuff it with more plots, including a ridiculous running-gag with the doctor's wife thinking her husband is a latent homosexual.
Maybe the material was more fit for a sitcom episode but the character was so eccentric by himself, he didn't need to be put in eccentric situations.That's the mistake most comedies make, sometimes, they get beyond their concept and lost the track. Romain, the guy played by Boon, was funny because he was acting according to his nature in an environment that was normal, when the events get abnormal; the comedy inevitably becomes over the top. And there was a moment where my enthusiasm dropped, in a dinner scene where Romain was supposedly mourning a dead colleague and he was making some weird bestial noises, I didn't know if he was serious or not, if he was serious, it was ridiculous in the film's context, if not, it was some lousy over the top acting.
And that's what happens when you entrust someone with a big budget, Boon was paid 2 million euros for this, I'm pretty sure the same concept with a budget ten times inferior would have forced the maker to focus on the character and not venture in politics, and a screenwriter who's given his first shot might have found more clever subplots. You can do a lot with a germ phobia, just put him in a prison and see what happens. The film had its moments in the midst of the mediocre turn it took, but nothing to match the laughter roller-coaster of the first ten minutes, that's what is infuriating.
And apparently, Boon stuck to his 'personality-concept' movies (why not? since it makes money) and released a film about a stingy man, well, I wonder what happens in the second act, is he stranded in a desert island? Hi-jacked by terrorists? Or meet extra-terrestrials? No scenario would surprise me anymore.
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