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.