Three Brothers

French TV and stage comedy group Les Inconnus, a sort of Not Ready for Prime Time team that won pop-culture kudos in the past decade, has concocted a feature-length comedy that should appeal to almost hip hometown crowds in search of broad social satire. "Three Brothers" might also interest re-makers in search of a project that could be labeled "Three Men and a Toddler, on the Run." Pic should do good domestic B.O. before heading to a long Eurovideo shelf life.

With:
Didier Latour ... Didier Bourdon Bernard Latour ... Bernard Campan Pascal Latour ... Pascal Legitimus Michael ... Antoine Du Merle Marie ... Anne Jacquemin Christine ... Marine Jolivet Charles-Henri Rougemont ... Pierre Meyrand

French TV and stage comedy group Les Inconnus, a sort of Not Ready for Prime Time team that won pop-culture kudos in the past decade, has concocted a feature-length comedy that should appeal to almost hip hometown crowds in search of broad social satire. “Three Brothers” might also interest re-makers in search of a project that could be labeled “Three Men and a Toddler, on the Run.” Pic should do good domestic B.O. before heading to a long Eurovideo shelf life.

Movie tells story of three strangers — Didier, Bernard and Pascal — who meet at a notary’s office to hear they are half-brothers who have inherited a fortune. Two days later, after several social and financial bridges have been burned, they find the money will instead be funneled to a charity.

Soon all three brothers are jobless, wanted by the law and, in Bernard’s case , saddled with a young son who he did not even know he had fathered. Latter half of this picaresque comedy follows the brothers as they stumble from one mishap to the next in a journey across France. Cars are stolen, lottery-ticket sellers are hoodwinked, and sight gags abound. When, for the sake of the boy, they give themselves up, their trial becomes a comic commentary on the xenophobic, authoritarian tendencies of modern France.

The trio of thesps — Didier Bourdon, Bernard Campan, Pascal Legitimus — try with varying success to propel a plot with a series of three-man sketches. Bourdon and Campan, although helmers and writers of the pic, leave lots of room to Legitimus — in particular, by giving him a juicy comic role as a head-hunter in a nastily chic office where every back-stabbing employee sports a ponytail. The other two lead characters — a failed porno star and a lecherous supermarket security manager — are more familiar screen losers.

These three French stooges offer a surprising variety of jokes based on head-butting competition between males in any given situation. Less universal is the streak of very mean humor aimed at the ordinary Joe — who is always a source of ridicule — and the fury directed at the tyranny of French petty bureaucrats.

When not taxing the audience’s patience with static shots designed to get three fast-talking heads into a single frame, lenser Alain Choquart takes a lively, often unexpected approach to classic sketch comedy. Editor Gerard Klotz matches pic’s look to the rapidity of the gags. Bourdon and Campan’s steady directing debut should attract notice.

Three Brothers

(LES TROIS FRERES)

Production: (FRENCH) An AMLF release (in France) of a Renn Prods./Prods. Paul & Alexandre Lederman/TF1 Films production, in association with Canal Plus. Executive producer, Pierre Grunstein. Directed by Didier Bourdon, Bernard Campan. Screenplay by Bourdon, Campan, Michel Lengliney.

Crew: Camera (color), Alain Choquart; editor, Gerard Klotz; music, Bourdon, Olivier Bernard; production design, Christian Marti; costume design, Gisele Ravard; sound, Bernard Bats, Paul Bertault. Reviewed at UGC Cine Cite Les Halles theater, Paris, Dec. 13, 1995. Running time: 110 MIN.

With: Didier Latour ... Didier Bourdon Bernard Latour ... Bernard Campan Pascal Latour ... Pascal Legitimus Michael ... Antoine Du Merle Marie ... Anne Jacquemin Christine ... Marine Jolivet Charles-Henri Rougemont ... Pierre MeyrandWith: Annik Alane, Isabelle Gruault, Bernard Farcy, Elie Semoun, Henry Courseaux, Jean-Francois Pastout, Bruno Lochet, Yolande Moreau, Thierry Benoist, Jacky Nercessian.

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