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OSS 117: Lost in Rio
Time Out New York Project: Issue #762, May 6–May 12, 2010
Dir. Michel Hazanavicius. 2009. N/R. 101mins. In French, with subtitles. Jean Dujardin, Louise Monot, Rüdiger Vogler.
The Brits have James Bond, and the French have Bath—Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, that is, the fictional Gallic secret agent known as OSS 117. The protagonist of a long-running series of novels and films between 1949 and 1992, he was resurrected by director Michel Hazanavicius for 2006’s OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies, which treated his often racist and sexist exploits with parodic panache. This sequel is more of the same, just set on the other side of the world and with Nazis.
Our hero (Dujardin, a master of the shit-eating grin) is after a particularly monomaniacal SS man named Von Zimmel (Vogler), who possesses a precious roll of microfilm. All manner of obstacles stand in the way, from an obviously inanimate croc to LSD-snarfing hippies, though the agent’s greatest challenge may be winning over Mossad agent Dolores Kuleshov (Monot), who doesn’t bow easily to masculine charms. Lost in Rio is heavy on movie references and we-know-better-now satire (Hitchcock films and Jewish stereotyping feature in several running gags, none of which are particularly funny). This is like a subpar Naked Gun feature cooked up by Eisenstein and Godard during a drug-addled lost weekend. Where’s Leslie Nielsen when you need him?—Keith Uhlich