A once-celebrated comic on the personal and professional skids has just 48 hours to seize his final chance at renewed success and romance in “Shot in the Foot.” Despite a few nice pieces of shtick and an obvious, if misguided, aura of sincerity, this adequately lensed and gamely acted effort is uncomfortably belabored, and essentially outmoded, in the storytelling department. Pierre Richard’s considerable gift for slightly distracted physical comedy is intact, but even that seems old-fashioned in a world more accustomed to cranked-up Jim Carrey-style antics. Pic will tickle undemanding viewers.
Romain (Richard, who also co-wrote and directs) is a washed-up film comedian who doesn’t understand what’s hit him. Reduced to peddling a retrograde script to uninterested young suits, Romain is supposed to be rehearsing the lead in a legit “Cyrano de Bergerac” directed by his histrionic sister but finds himself sorely distracted. He can’t get a fair price for the converted windmill he must sell to pay taxes; his wife has vanished with their houseboat; his two young sons and strident mistress are clamoring for attention; a private detective is trying to get incriminating photos; and his beleaguered best friend has his hands full propping up Romain’s sagging self-esteem.Pic is artificially frenetic in some places and marbled with dead air in others, but sharp comic timing is nonetheless in evidence in a bawdy scene in which an interpreter gets embroiled in unintended sexual innuendo. Other bright spots include an account of “Snow White” as a parable concerning McCarthyism and communism, and Romain’s out-of-left-field tendency to speak perfect German or Arabic following sharp blows to the head.
With his Einstein-like mop of hair and slightly hurt expression, Richard has the mopey charisma to carry the film, were it more fleshed out. But the character of Romain is not so automatically lovable that everyone should endlessly cater to his selfish needs. Result is a batch of good actors acting up a storm in completely inconsequential material. Producer Jean-Louis Livi cameos as a bum who claims Romain caused his financial downfall.