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  OSS 117: Lost in Rio Why Would Anyone Want To Go To Reno?
Year: 2009
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Stars: Jean Dujardin, Louise Monot, Rüdiger Vogler, Alex Lutz, Reem Kherici, Pierre Bellamare, Ken Samuels, Serge Hazanavicius, Laurent Capelluto, Cirllo Luna, Moon Dailly, Walter Shnorkell, Philippe Hérisson, Nicky Marbot, Christelle Cornil
Genre: Comedy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Gstaad in 1967, and French secret agent Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath (Jean Dujardin), aka OSS 117, is taking a break from saving his country to spend time skiing. At the lodge that evening, he grooves the night away with about thirty of the female friends he has picked up over the past few hours, when suddenly a group of Chinese agents gatecrash the party and hold them all at gunpoint. They want revenge for a previous mission he has carried out, but no sooner have they told him this than he has drawn his pistol and a gunfight erupts, killing everyone except Hubert and the Countess he has been romancing. All in a night's work for France's greatest spy...

The OSS 117 character, previously played perfectly straight in a run of movies stretching back to around the middle of the twentieth century, had been offered a revamp in the twenty-first thanks to director Michel Hazanavicius, screenwriter Jean-François Halin and their star Jean Dujardin, whose first attempt rendered the character as a clueless buffoon, and generated a sizeable hit in the process. So successful was it that it was natural a sequel be ordered, and so Lost in Rio, or OSS 117: Rio ne répond plus if you were French, was the result, bringing the spy forward a decade into the sixties with all his prejudices intact.

Their first instalment was very funny, but if anything this second effort was even funnier, taking the premise into fresh heights of the absurd and proving that you had to be exceedingly clever to pull off comedy this stupid. It's not that the self awareness saves it from being offensive, although they do get away with a lot here, as there is a winning line in ludicrous humour that truly makes the film hilarious, so while you could see it all as a keen edged send up of outdated values, more than anything this is a cheerfully silly comedy. As before, Dujardin takes to this like a duck paddle boat to water, grinning his charmingly inane smile no matter what the adventure throws at Hubert, a man already past his prime as far as world events go.

He has to head for Brazil this time around because an escaped Nazi, Von Zimmel (Rüdiger Vogler, famed for his Wim Wenders roles), has threatened France with exposing the list of now-influential men who were collaborators during World War II, all on a microfilm that they are blackmailing the country with. Hubert dutifully travels south to pick up the list and spare France's blushes, although he doesn't see what the problem is, believing that the number of names must be tiny, after all, why else would it be on microfilm? When he gets there, he tussles with some more Chinese agents, smarmily insulting C.I.A. man Bill Trumendous (Ken Samuels), and finally a cell of Mossad agents led by Dolores Koulechov (Louise Monot) who Hubert takes to be their secretary.

Yes, he's sexist too, and racist as well as he questions the logic of sending Jews after Nazis because he thinks they would be too recognisable what with their ethnic appearance, gags here which may be near the knuckle but the film somehow gets way with due to the way it clearly does not endorse their hero's stupidity. Every nation is parodied under Hubert's obtuse gaze, and that includes France, but the Germans might find the most to feel uncomfortable as all their characters turn out to be baddies. On the way, the agent dresses as Robin Hood, takes LSD with hippies and participates in an orgy (which features his first homosexual experience, amusingly) and faces his fear of heights stemming from the time he was a trapeze artist and dropped his partner. The look of this is perfectly realised (those split screen effects!), you don't go a minute without at least one big laugh, and if it's essentially still a one joke movie, it carries it off with great flair. Music by Ludovic Bource.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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