In Like A Splint: OSS 117, 12 Years Later

2011/04/24

He’s baaaack.  That glib smile, that infectious laugh, that receding hairline, those mischievous eyebrows and, lest I forget, that prêt-à-porter wardrobe.  In OSS 117: Lost in Rio, French comedic actor Jean Dujardin returns for another, hilarious outing as the secret agent code-named OSS 117.   This time around, it’s a doozy, as in douze ans plus tard.  OSS 117 is twelve years older and more inept than ever!

As with 2006’s uproarious OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies, this sequel also was adapted from the OSS 117 novels by Jean Bruce.  Dujardin’s Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath reads like an early “007” on acid.  That he resembles Sean Connery’s James Bond (circa Dr. No) while poking fun at Gallic arrogance lends parodic thrills and caustic political satire to his new, South American adventure.

Take note:  The bumbling spy who can never seem capable of parallel parking his flashy convertible, is not OSS double-one seven.  Non pas de tout.  He’s OSS cent dix-sept!  Mais oui.  Amid all the hijinx, Bonisseur de la Bath, who’s flitting through Brazil’s pristine beaches, scenic roads and tropical rainforests as evening newspaper reporter “Noel Flantier,” tries his dogged best to get laid – thus, my ironic title for this review.  He possesses neither the dashing charm of Connery’s Bond nor the rugged allure of James Coburn’s Derek Flint (himself a parody of the debonnaire Bond) in Our Man Flint.   Every time “petit Hubert” tries to take a “dip,” it’s a side-splitting laugh for us, the viewers.  And oh, it hurts so good!

From the jump, the little birdies spying on Bonisseur de la Bath (prior to his assignment as “Noel Flantier”) and a lover in the sack are getting more action. Bad enough that the vacationing secret agent remains in his skiing ensemble (including footgear) while his sex mate is sprawled in a sheer, hot-pink teddy.  Even funnier, wings of the fornicating (mechanical) birds flutter frenziedly to a devil-may-care tune breezing above the bed and out a window that reveals an ethereal, midnight blue sky.

Here are nine more scenes that had me on the floor choking with laughter.  In no particular order:  1) the film’s intro, with a never-ending twist (as in the jaunty dance – after all, this sequel is set in the sixties) and Bonisseur de la Bath’s stupid smile while he’s gyrating his hips;  2) the split-screen depiction of Noel’s arrival in Brazil, the enemy on his heels and a commercial samba score setting up the retro mood;  3) Noel yelling at his Nazi prey with a waterfall behind him that mutes his voice;  4) a Nazi’s German stylings on the bossa nova classic “The Girl from Ipanema,” replacing Astrud Gilberto’s breezy “Ahhh” in the chorus with a chilly (and chilling) “Brrr”;  5) Noel’s  brash interrogation of two children living in a favela, with regard to the whereabouts of a Nazi whom he was sent to capture because he possesses an object that could compromise the honor and legacy of the French Resistance; 6) Noel’s refusal to stop repeating a corny pun involving his spy name and his Christmas boules (his “Christmas present,” he says to his unamused Israeli Jewish female Mod-stylin’ espionage partner, Dolores, before trying the joke on a colleague telephonically);  7) Noel’s sexual harassment of his aforementioned spy partner as their airplane plummets to their uncertain deaths;  8) Noel’s misconstruing of the term hippie sects with hippic sex; and 9) CIA operative Bill Trumendous’ jarring Franglish and his grinning insults, to Noel’s bewildered reaction, in the former’s car.

However, one, wonderfully extended sequence that was worth the DVD’s price – a cost with the altitude of Cristo atop Corcovado – occurs on a Rio beach at nighttime.  Sometime after Noel unwittingly accepts LSD (to which he refers as the French abbreviation RSVP later in the film) from a hippie chick, not only is he lost in Rio but also he loses his clothing.  He finds himself tripped-out with a group of hippies who are camped around a fire and, upon the acid’s full effect, engaging in an orgy with them.  If that weren’t psychedelic enough, soul singer Minnie Riperton’s chirpy 1970s ballad “Loving You” offers a starkly innocent contrast to all the naturalistic, writhing, carnal movements.

The orgy sequence’s split-screen effect feels so perfectly vintage.  Immediately I thought of 1968’s The Thomas Crown Affair as well as early- to mid-sixties romantic comedies starring Doris Day.  Dujardin’s “backlit” partial nudity around the fire is arousing.  Against the flickering images of lips on breasts and palms on buttocks, Noel’s participation in group sex lends him sensual depth – as if the subtle flexing of Dujardin’s arched eyebrows, though they’re a thinner version of Sean Connery’s Scottish thickets, doesn’t imply a soupçon of virility.  That glow on Noel’s countenance isn’t the look of love; it’s the blissful expression of “loving” the one you’re with.

Caution:  OSS: Lost in Rio makes no apologies for political incorrectness. No, in an OSS 117 film, savoir-faire is not everywhere.  Nor is it anywhere.  Throughout the movie, Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath repeatedly shows why he is a bigot and an asshole (OK, the two are mutually exclusive) by spewing forth anti-Semitic and misogynistic remarks.  Sometimes he doubles up on offensiveness.  If you can get through reruns of the satirical 1970s sitcom “All in the Family” without surfing to another channel, then you can endure OSS: Lost in Rio.  Also, there’s brief nudity, so combined with the un-PC nature of the dialogue, this is a film made for an adult audience.  Or, put another way, it’s one, cool European flick.
 

Copyright © 2011 By Chantale Reve


DVD:  OSS 117:  Lost in Rio

Director:  Michel Hazanavicius

Studio:  Music Box Films

DVD release date:  August 31, 2010

Format:  NTSC, WS

Rating:  Not Rated

Running time:  97 min.

Language:  French, with English subtitles

DVD Bonus Features:  Behind the Scenes, Theatrical Trailer

Photo Source:  IMDb

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