Over-the-top Judaica and out-of-date humor mark vet-producer-turned-sometime-helmer Ariel Zeitoun’s latest foray into the hit-and-miss market of broad French comedy. “A Woman Very Very Very Much in Love,” an ethnoshtick-laden tale of a panicky Lothario who must impregnate a woman, any woman, before his imminent 33rd birthday or face permanent impotence, is a forced hymn to miscegenation that embarrasses far more than it amuses. Despite the teen-pleasing presence of lead Nagui, a French TV star popular for his lowbrow-Letterman approach to hosting game and talkshows, pic should do only modest local B.O. before finding its rightful place as tube filler. Offshore prospects look very very very much in doubt.
The awkward hijinx begin when Zak (Nagui), a comic-strip artist, learns of “the curse of Onan” hanging over the males of his family: Unless they impregnate someone before they’re 33, they must kiss goodbye the joys of sex
Unfortunately, Zak’s cynical penchant for married — and thus unclinging — women makes siring a child that much more problematic. His current g.f., Florence (Cristiana Reali), a comely art auctioneer given to low-cut dresses and high-speed repartee, is a married mother of triplets and thus seemingly unavailable for procreation.
Enter cousin Joseph (Thomas Langmann), an oversexed Orthodox rabbi who sets up Zak with a Teutonic supermodel (Joanna Rhodes). As his worried mother (Maria Pacome) kvetches in the background, Zak starts popping sleeping pills to encounter his late father in f/x-filled dream sequences. Dad (Michel Boujenah), a cross between Harpo Marx and Liberace who lost the family fortune at the casino, cracks a lot of Jewish jokes, licks his chops at the lovelies in Zak’s life and generally turns the farce into vaudeville.
Faced with Zeitoun’s bull-in-a-china-shop approach to social comedy, the principals manage to elicit sympathy if not much laughter. As the hapless Zak, Nagui makes up for his shortcomings in the slapstick sequences by being consistently strong in high-powered whining. Less likable is Boujenah, a superb and often moving standup comic whose perf as the ghostly father never rises above utterly self-indulgent ham.
Tech credits are fine, but one wishes that this bland stew of Borscht Belt Benetton sentiment had somehow been given to a screenwriter unattached to an exploding cigar.