The Gods Must Be Dancing

There's a stylized comedy struggling to emerge in "The Gods Must Be Dancing," and it's dragging its heels nearly every step of the way. Local auds will glean some pleasure from extensive cast of Gallic faves on the trail of a valuable, misplaced statuette, but vet helmer Michel Deville never achieves the carefree, engaging tone the wacky material desperately requires. Busy but less than riveting result reps an instance when the flippant insouciance of Donald Westlake, on whose novel "Dancing Aztecs" pic is based, would appear to travel better in written than in filmed form.

With:
Alex - Antoine de Caunes Bobbi - Emmanuelle Seigner Angele - Elodie Bouchez Marc - Denis Podalydes Jean-Baptiste - Robert Plagnol Paul - Richard Gotainer Krassmeier - Olivier Py Charles - Frederic Gelard Oscar - Roschdy Zem Mamadou - Hubert Kounde

There’s a stylized comedy struggling to emerge in “The Gods Must Be Dancing,” and it’s dragging its heels nearly every step of the way. Local auds will glean some pleasure from extensive cast of Gallic faves on the trail of a valuable, misplaced statuette, but vet helmer Michel Deville never achieves the carefree, engaging tone the wacky material desperately requires. Busy but less than riveting result reps an instance when the flippant insouciance of Donald Westlake, on whose novel “Dancing Aztecs” pic is based, would appear to travel better in written than in filmed form.

Under opening credits, a small golden statue worth $1 million is stolen from a museum in Mali and shepherded through customs mixed in with cheap replicas. Their destination: Lyon, where the copies are to be funneled to the founding members of a new squash club while the priceless original is routed to a pair of short, violence-prone bad guys (Richard Gotainer, Olivier Py).

There’s a mix-up with jaunty delivery man Alex (popular TV personality and actor Antoine de Caunes), and the real statue is given accidentally to one of the club members. Bachelor Alex and his extended family of friends and relatives set out to track down and examine all 10 wayward statues.

Plentiful complications include competition from handsome young pool salesman Jean-Baptiste (Robert Plagnol), who overhears the whole scheme while hiding in a closet after his tryst with Angele (Elodie Bouchez) is interrupted by the return of her nerdy but much-loved hubby (Bruno Podalydes).

While African emissary Mamadou (Hubert Kounde, from Mathieu Kassovitz’s “Cafe au Lait” and “Hate”) heads for France in a cargo plane, harpist Bobbi (Emmanuelle Seigner) walks out on her husband (Frederic Gelard) and drives off to Rome with one of the statues in her suitcase. In pic’s most amusing set piece, Bobbi tosses her nude hubby’s entire wardrobe out the window before soaking all sheets and towels in the tub — making it awkward for him to leave the house.

Characters barge in and out of one another’s lives, pausing to tussle, argue or flirt, smashing statuettes in a seemingly endless process of trying to find the solid gold original. With its forced jauntiness and multi-thesp roster of caricatures, pic recalls (on a more modest scale) the now-outdated mayhem of romps such as “What’s New Pussycat” and “Casino Royale.” One definite bright spot is the score, which is playful and practically omnipresent. Warm-weather lensing in the region around Lyon is pleasant enough.

During the credits, and elsewhere, pic mocks the artifice of moviemaking by showing behind-the-camera technicians performing their roles. However, to paraphrase Coleridge on an ancient mariner: There’s watered-down humor everywhere and too much time to think.

The Gods Must Be Dancing

French

Production: An AMLF release (in France) of an Elefilm/France 3 Cinema/Le Studio Canal Plus/Rhone-Alpes Cinema production, with participation of CNC, Canal Plus, Cofimage 8, Studio Images 3. (International sales: UGC DA Intl., Neuilly-sur-Seine.) Produced by Rosalinde Deville. Directed by Michel Deville. Screenplay, Rosalinde and Michel Deville, based on the novel "Dancing Aztecs" by Donald Westlake.

Crew: Camera (color), Andre Diot, Eric Faucherre; editor, Raymonde Guyot; music, Quentin Damamme; art direction, Thierry Leproust; costume design, Cecile Balme; sound (Dolby), Jean Minondo, Francois Groult; credit sequences, Benjamin Baltimore, Marc Pasini. Reviewed at AMLF screening room, Paris, March 17, 1997. Running time: 102 MIN.

With: Alex - Antoine de Caunes Bobbi - Emmanuelle Seigner Angele - Elodie Bouchez Marc - Denis Podalydes Jean-Baptiste - Robert Plagnol Paul - Richard Gotainer Krassmeier - Olivier Py Charles - Frederic Gelard Oscar - Roschdy Zem Mamadou - Hubert KoundeWith: Christian Benedetti, Helene de Fougerolles, Amanda Langlet, Nozha Khouadra, Laure Marsac, Agnes Obadia, Jean-Francois Perrier

More Film

  • Anita Hill

    Anita Hill Chairs Hollywood Anti-Sexual Harassment Commission Formed by Top Execs

    There’s a stylized comedy struggling to emerge in “The Gods Must Be Dancing,” and it’s dragging its heels nearly every step of the way. Local auds will glean some pleasure from extensive cast of Gallic faves on the trail of a valuable, misplaced statuette, but vet helmer Michel Deville never achieves the carefree, engaging tone […]

  • Warren Beatty

    Arnon Milchan Sues Warren Beatty Over 'Rules Don't Apply' Flop

    There’s a stylized comedy struggling to emerge in “The Gods Must Be Dancing,” and it’s dragging its heels nearly every step of the way. Local auds will glean some pleasure from extensive cast of Gallic faves on the trail of a valuable, misplaced statuette, but vet helmer Michel Deville never achieves the carefree, engaging tone […]

  • Oscar Isaac Addams Family

    Oscar Isaac in Talks to Voice Gomez Addams in Animated 'Addams Family' Movie

    There’s a stylized comedy struggling to emerge in “The Gods Must Be Dancing,” and it’s dragging its heels nearly every step of the way. Local auds will glean some pleasure from extensive cast of Gallic faves on the trail of a valuable, misplaced statuette, but vet helmer Michel Deville never achieves the carefree, engaging tone […]

  • Jennifer Lawrence

    Publicists for Jennifer Lawrence, Daisy Ridley, Amy Adams Form New Firm

    There’s a stylized comedy struggling to emerge in “The Gods Must Be Dancing,” and it’s dragging its heels nearly every step of the way. Local auds will glean some pleasure from extensive cast of Gallic faves on the trail of a valuable, misplaced statuette, but vet helmer Michel Deville never achieves the carefree, engaging tone […]

  • Hannah Marks Liana Liberato

    Hannah Marks, Liana Liberato to Star in High School Comedy 'Banana Split'

    There’s a stylized comedy struggling to emerge in “The Gods Must Be Dancing,” and it’s dragging its heels nearly every step of the way. Local auds will glean some pleasure from extensive cast of Gallic faves on the trail of a valuable, misplaced statuette, but vet helmer Michel Deville never achieves the carefree, engaging tone […]

  • NOR_D01_053017_9621_R2 – L-R: Tom Hanks (Ben

    Steven Spielberg's 'The Post' to Open Palm Springs Film Festival

    There’s a stylized comedy struggling to emerge in “The Gods Must Be Dancing,” and it’s dragging its heels nearly every step of the way. Local auds will glean some pleasure from extensive cast of Gallic faves on the trail of a valuable, misplaced statuette, but vet helmer Michel Deville never achieves the carefree, engaging tone […]

  • Willa Fitzgerald

    'The Goldfinch' Movie Adaptation Casts Willa Fitzgerald (EXCLUSIVE)

    There’s a stylized comedy struggling to emerge in “The Gods Must Be Dancing,” and it’s dragging its heels nearly every step of the way. Local auds will glean some pleasure from extensive cast of Gallic faves on the trail of a valuable, misplaced statuette, but vet helmer Michel Deville never achieves the carefree, engaging tone […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content