OSS 117: Rio ne répond plus [OSS 117: Lost in Rio] (2009)

<strong class="MovieTitle">OSS 117: Rio ne répond plus</strong> [<strong class="MovieTitle">OSS 117: Lost in Rio</strong>] (2009)

(In French, On TV, October 2018) The premise of the OSS 117 series is strange but simple: adapt older French spy novels as comedies by repurposing their plot and pushing their sexist and racist content to an absurd degree. It wouldn’t work if Jean Dujardin wasn’t headlining the cast, and in fact it works markedly less well in OSS 117: Rio ne répond plus than in the first film of the series. It turns out that even when exaggerated for comic purposes, sexist and racism aren’t that funny … and the film doesn’t have much more in its sleeve to get viewers laughing. Dujardin does have the comic timing (and the square-jawed looks) to take the parochialism into comic territory, but there the jokes fall flat as being irritating and repetitive. It’s no surprise if the female characters, played by Louise Monot and Reem Kherici, are far more likable than the misogynistic hero. Director Michel Hazanavicius replicates the original’s self-consciously old-fashioned filmmaking, but he can’t strike gold twice, and the film often becomes an ordeal rather than an enjoyable parody piece. At best, OSS 117: Rio ne répond plus is best seen right after the original film, but I expect that the growing exasperation with the character is liable to grow even worse when they’re watched back-to-back. Too bad, because there’s a kernel of interest here that could have been developed better.

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