OSS 117: Lost In Rio

Here’s a surprising little factette for y’all: OSS 117: Lost in Rio is a sequel. Yup, we’re as surprised as you are. Evidently, the first film in the series, Nest of Spies, passed us by when it was released in 2008. Either that or it wasn’t released on account of being a bit rubbish. Both films are a sort of gentle Bond spoof (117 – geddit?), revelling in their vaguely fromage-scented sixties milieu and lead Jean Dujardin’s (literal translation: John Of Garden) vague resemblance to Sean Connery.

The name’s Bonisseur de la Bath. Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath. Though I wish it were actually “Bond”

The plot goes something like this: French operative Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath aka Agent 117 (Jean Dujardin) embarks on a secret mission to track down a microfilm containing the names of all of the French Nazi sympathisers who sided with Hitler’s forces during the Second World War. Agent 117 heads for Brazil in search of this valuable document and is soon joined by beautiful Mossad Colonel, Dolores Koulechov (Louise Monot), who also wants the microfilm so that the guilty men can stand trial for war crimes. But as the case progresses, the two become increasingly attracted to each other – a fact that hi-lariously impedes the duo’s ability to complete their mission. My, those crazy French spies. Whatever will they get up to next?

With any luck, not another sequel to this dreck. What little plot there is is pushed well into the background in order to highlight crassly racist gags, stereotypes and woefully unfunny set pieces. Spies and espionage are rife for parody – just witness the comedic brilliance of Seller’s Clouseau, the Austin Powers series and, um, Never Say Never Again. But this witless excuse for comedy can’t hold a candle to the original (and terrible) spoof version of Casino Royal, let along A Shot In The Dark.

The Name’s Smug. Too Damn Smug

One of film’s main failings is Jean Dujardin as the eponymous Agent 117. His smarmy, eyebrow-lifting smugness distances you from the character from the off – even in terms of satire, he comes across as vulgarly trite and instantly despicable. Louise Monot doesn’t fare any better, flitting between sassy lady spy and feckless would-be kidnap victim with moronic predictability. Add to that the borderline racist portrayal of Chinese and Americans, gags about hippies that got stale in ’76 and crude humour that even six-year olds would find beneath them and you’ve really got nowhere to go. There’s a vague sense that the un-PC elements of the film are trying to be ironic, but the ethos of the film doesn’t convince, and instead of being tongue-in-cheek, OSS 117: Lost In Rio comes across as just plain offensive. OSS 117: Michel Hazanavicius’ direction is zippy enough, but it can’t save what’s otherwise a trashy, glib and laugh-free “satire”. And seeing that two other marvellous French films – A Prophet and Micmacs – are heading to our cinemas soon, there really isn’t any excuse for going to see this.

What did you reckon to OSS 117: Lost in Brazil? Tackily unpleasant, or a just a daft, enjoyable take on the spy genre? Leave us your thoughts below. Preferable in invisible ink or something suitably 007.

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