Wednesday, March 23, 2011

OSS 117—Lost in Rio

OSS 117— Lost in Rio (Michel Hazanavicius, 2009) Another one that got away from theaters last year and ended up in the video aisles.  Too bad.  Because the first of the OSS 117 spoofs starring Jean Dujardin (Cairo: Nest of Spies) was an amusing spoof of the James Bond films, circa early 1960's under the direction of Terence Young—all high-light filming (it didn't rain in a Bond film until 2006's Casino Royale), clueless cool, casual absurdism, DuJardin's cheery resemblance to Sean Connery mixed with James Coburn's cheesy grin, and a pace that didn't give you a chance to question "Q'est-ce que c'est?"

Cairo: Nest of Spies nailed it.  And the sequel: Lost in Rio (literal translation: "Rio Doesn't Answer") was to be filmed partially in the city of Brasilia, a 60's construct that could have been designed by Bond-architect Ken Adam—and played a role in the french spy spoof That Man from Rio.

Lost in Rio doesn't disappoint.  Establishing the time-frame as 1967, French agent Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath (with newly long side-burns) enters the play-room of his Swiss villa in Gstaad, and begins to twist with a bevy of snow-bunnies in his Jean-Claude Killy snow-suit to Dean Martin crooning "Gentle on my Mind," documented in groovy split-screen (the year it was used extensively at Expo '67).  The OSS spoof trademarks are trotted out—the adherence to Young's photographic style, that de La Bath's Walther ppk fires an endless supply of bullets from its clip (that's okay, as the enemy's Lugers do the same), he is still cluelessly sexist and racist in his attitudes, this time being particularly rude dealing with the Mossad and the Chinese.  This time, he's helping Israeli agents track down yet another Nazi in Rio de Janeiro, with the passive-aggressive assistance of the CIA's Bill Trumendous (Ken Samuels).  But, while paying homage to the Bond style, it also goes after Hitchcock (particularly his penchant for staging precarious situations on national monuments)—seems de La Bath was once a circus gymnast where an accident gave him a phobia for heights.

The humor is all over the map from subtle film references to absurd slapstick and Dujardin is still an amiable lizard presence.  This one wasn't as successful as the first film (hence its straight-to-video status), but here's hoping they do more.


Scott said...

I loved these movies. "We all have our fears. For you, Nazis. For me, trapeze."

I also liked the line, "It must be a short list. Didn't General DeGaulle say that all of France resisted?"

Yojimbo_5 said...

Yeah. The only caveat about Rio is that de la Bath seems to have lost his cluelessly ambiguous sexual leanings. C'est la vie.