(*homocinematically inclined)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Reverend's Reviews: Flying Down to Rio with Agent 117

He's sexy. He's suave. He's France's top secret agent, Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath — a.k.a. OSS 117 — but that's where similarities to James Bond end. This Gallic superspy is prone to attacks of vertigo, making politically incorrect statements and participating in a bisexual beach orgy.

OSS 117: Lost in Rio, opening tomorrow at the Landmark Nuart in Los Angeles and scheduled for release throughout the summer in other US cities, is a winning spoof of the earlier 007 films but may owe even more to the Inspector Clouseau/Pink Panther series. As 117, actor Jean Dujardin (who is a ringer for, if more in-shape than, one-time James Bond George Lazenby) bumbles along in self-assured bliss as he offends Israeli agents with his ignorant, anti-Semitic remarks as well as his female partner (played by the lovely, straight-faced Louise Monot) with his chauvinistic attitude while they collectively track a Nazi war criminal (a wickedly funny RĂ¼diger Vogler) hiding out as a wrestling promoter in 1967 Rio de Janeiro.

The movie is directed and co-written by Michel Hazanavicius, who also made its 2006 prequel, OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies. I don't know whether the filmmaker is gay or bisexual, but he and Dujardin seem to take advantage of every opportunity to get 117 as minimally-dressed as possible. Dujardin's attractive posterior is exposed several times (including during that beach orgy) and he is at various points shown in a form-fitting vintage swimsuit, a too-short bathrobe, circus-aerialist and Robin Hood tights, and good ol' tighty-whities.

The script is liberally peppered with funny bon mots and character bits. A foul-mouthed CIA agent serves as a slam against American aggression, and the revenge-hungry members of a Chinese dynasty make recurring appearances. OSS 117: Lost in Rio also boasts period-perfect original music, art direction and, of course, split-screen photography.

While hardly a classic piece of cinema nor even a classic spoof (the Austin Powers films were more knowing when it came to Bond lore and the vagaries of contemporary pop culture), the movie nonetheless provides 97 minutes of sheer entertainment and enjoyment. Viewers shouldn't come expecting anything more. After all, as OSS 117 himself warns his fellow bisexual orgy participants before getting distracted: "Out of context, a finger up the butt ..."

UPDATE: Oss 117: Lost in Rio is now available on DVD from

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

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