Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Writers: Jean Bruce (character), Jean-François Halin (screenplay)
Producers: Eric Altmeyer, Nicholas Altmeyer
Cinematographer: Guillaume Schiffman
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Louise Monot, Rüdiger Vogler
Studio: Mandarin Films
The spy who loved himself
Buffoonish French super-spy Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath (Jean Dujardin), aka agent 117, once again charms the ladies while foiling nefarious villains in OSS 117: Lost in Rio, a stale follow-up to 2006’s Cairo, Nest of Spies. An Austin Powers-style spoof carried out with reasonable attention to aesthetic period detail (grainy cinematography, mod outfits, copious split screen effects), Michel Hazanavicius’ comedy charts 117’s efforts in swinging 1967 to track down a Nazi doctor (Rüdiger Vogler) planning to blackmail the French government with a list of WWII Vichy collaborators.
This flimsy narrative willfully eschews suspense in favor of deconstructive jokiness, with the story primarily concerned with having its egotistical man of mystery make an unmitigated ass of himself via bad puns, boorish behavior, and awkward homoerotic encounters. Racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic and, according to his sexy Israeli partner, also “a tacky dresser,” 117 proves a reasonably amusing doofus caricature of James Bond. Nonetheless, despite a few drolly inappropriate bon mots by the pompous protagonist, the sluggish, one-joke film can’t overcome the fact that it’s sending up a 007 series that—with the exception of 2006’s superb Casino Royale—already plays like a parody of itself, making its goofiness seem by and large redundant.