A lightweight family comedy, "It's for a Good Cause" tries hard to please with its heartwarming tale of a boy smuggling an African refugee into his home, but lame dialogue and lackluster performances undercut pic's good intentions. Presence of actors Dominique Blanc and Antoine de Caunes could promote some domestic interest, but pic's failure to exploit comic possibilities of its plot makes a short theatrical life likely. Set somewhere in French suburbia, the film opens in a classroom where photos of African refugees are being passed around by an earnest aid worker, who is looking for families to take in African orphans for a one-month stay in France. Moved by the pictures and confident of his parents' humanitarian convictions, 12-year-old Tonin (Loic Freynet), the pic's impetuous hero, volunteers his home, winning praise from his teacher and the wistful envy of his classmates.

Unfortunately, Tonin’s overworked father, Daniel (de Caunes), a trendy kitchen designer who would have preferred to be a painter, is mighty impressed by his son’s generosity but turns him down flat. Too embarrassed to tell his class the next day, Tonin decides to bluff it out, leading him — and soon his African visitor — from one subterfuge to the next.

Comedy soon descends into farce as Tonin’s parents discover the young African boy, Moussa (Gaspart Jassef), living in a trailer in their garage and, still unwilling hosts, find themselves the object of admiring local TV coverage and delivering anti-racist lectures to local bigots. Through Moussa’s unwanted presence, pic unsubtly reveals the hypocrisy of Tonin’s father and the fault line running through his marriage with Jeanne (Blanc), an overworked insurance agent.

Pic has its amusing moments, but the comedy and underlying message are delivered with little finesse, and the performances of the central characters lack the sparkle needed to carry helmer Jacques Fansten’s plodding script.

It's For A Good Cause

French - Belgian

Production

A Belga Films release (in Belgium) of a Jacques Dercourt presentation of an Atlantique Prod. production (France). (International sales: Belga Films, Brussels.) Produced by Jacques Dercourt. Executive producers, Jacques Methe, Bernard Giglio. Directed, written by Jacques Fansten, based on his novel.

Crew

Camera (color), Laura Machuel; editor, Andre Chaudagne; music, Jean-Marie Senia; production design, Jacques Rouxel; costume design, Edith Vesperini; sound, Henri Morelle; associate producers, John Delville, Jacqueline Pierreux, Philippe Bosmans; casting, Francoise Menidrey. Reviewed at Brussels Film Festival, Jan. 14, 1997. Running time: 106 MIN. (French dialogue)

With

Jeanne ..... Dominique Blanc Daniel ..... Antoine de Caunes Tonin ..... Loic Freynet Lanie ..... Laurie Lefret Moussa ..... Gaspart Jassef Martineau ..... Jacques Bonnafe Jose ..... Mehdi Dahiri Pierrot ..... Christopher Hede-Hauy Gregoire ..... Emmanuele Italiano
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