OSS 117: Lost In Rio
Film: OSS 117: Lost In Rio
Release date: 12th April 2010
Running time: 101 mins
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Louise Monot, Rudiger Vogler
Spoof spy films were old hat even in the 1960s, when David Niven lampooned James Bond in the original 1967 Casino Royale movie. But it seems the cinema-going public never tire of retro-60s glamour and sheer daftness – it certainly hasn’t done Mike Myers’ career any harm – which goes a long way to explaining why the OSS 117 series has been so successful in France.
The first film to star Jean Dujardin as the special agent Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath. – OSS 117: Cairo Nest Of Spies – was a big hit in France, and it was only a matter of time before a sequel hit the screens. OSS 117: Lost In Rio finds our hero hunting for a fugitive Nazi in South America with predictably disastrous results.
Like Austin Powers, Get Smart and most of the Roger Moore James Bond films, the plot itself is flimsier than a watered-down vodka martini. It genuinely it not worth thinking about, but the film motors along nicely – ticking all the boxes we know and love. There are glamorous locations, ridiculous fight scenes and beautiful women…
It almost goes without saying, but it’s a French comedy – so it’s insanely unfunny. If you thought the Asterix films were a high point in cultural excellence, then you will feel right at home here. Laugh out loud jokes are thin on the ground, but there are plenty of groan to yourself moments.
It’s almost as if the nation of France are finally paying us back for all those British daytrippers buying cheap lager in Calais, and for murdering their native tongue with ‘Allo Allo’. In hundreds of years’ time, we may know what the greater crime was, but for now we can only guess. My money is still on Café Rene, though.
Louise Monot is perfectly cast as the easy-on-the-eye sidekick who manages to resist OSS 117’s charms long enough to solve the case. Jean Dujardin plays it straight as the stuck-up and hopelessly un-PC secret agent. He’s no Peter Sellers, admittedly, but his attempts to seduce women by talking about cheese will crack a few smiles. Plus he looks good in a dinner jacket, which always helps.
The problem is that he never really convinces as a suave ‘60s man-about-town. He just comes across as a bit boorish and stupid. That might be part of the joke, but at least with Austin Powers, you had a hero you could root for. The occasional twinkle in his eye would have helped.
Where this genuinely triumphs is in the way the filmmakers have perfectly – and I do mean perfectly – recreated the look of 1960s films. From the clothes to the slightly washed-out cinematography, it is a flawless homage to that era. But the split screen effect – another nod back to ‘60s films – is used on one too many occasions, and rapidly becomes annoying.
Ludovic Bource’s score to the film is a shameless celebration of cocktail hour kitsch, and really adds to the feel of an era when Jason Bourne was just a glint in the spymaster’s eye, but the jokes do wear a bit thin, so there’s that inevitable feeling that all the best one-liners were used in the first film, and this is just their lap of honour.
The film certainly suits the small screen. In many ways, it’s the French version of the Rowan Atkinson spoof Johnny English. It’s harmless enough, but could have benefitted from Atkinson’s finely honed comic skills and rubbery face. Great soundtrack, though!
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