Review: ‘The Sun Sisters’

With: Didier Benureau, Isabelle Carre, Leonore Confino. An inconsequential family comedy about the clash between the anything-goes rock 'n' roll mentality and a couple mired in uptight bourgeois refinement, "The Sun Sisters" is unlikely to draw big bucks into its bigscreen orbit but will connect just fine on TV. Despite the presence of popular comic thesps, the satire is too de-fanged and the laughs too scattered, considering the writers, actors, director and producers involved, who have variously contributed to hits like "The Visitors," "An Indian in the City" and "Vengeance of a Blonde." Prim and proper Benedicte and Brice d'Hachicourt (Marie-Anne Chazal, Thierry Lhermitte) live with their preteen daughter, Clemence, in a lovely manse in a moneyed suburb of Paris. Brice runs a firm that manufactures luxury toilet paper and Benedicte plays organ for the local church, whose congregation is rehearsing her musical version of the Noah's Ark tale. Meanwhile, once-popular and ever-flamboyant rock singer Gloria Soleil (Clementine Celarie) is back in town after two years, determined to relaunch her now nonexistent career.

When his daughter wins a radio contest promoting Gloria’s crass comeback tune, Brice — a pipe-smoking stick-in-the-mud who’s bucking for presidency of the local Lion’s Club — forbids her to accept the prize, a guest appearance in Gloria’s new MTV-style video. But Benedicte, who is a distant relative of Frederic Chopin and never followed through on her own musical dreams, agrees to secretly accompany her daughter to the shoot.

Mom and daughter end up on camera shaking their booties in a seemingly harmless setting. But when the video hits the air, near-naked men with rubber crustaceans barely covering their crotches have joined the party through the miracle of special effects. When Benedicte tries to remedy the situation, she gets sucked into a series of silly situations involving stolen sound equipment and hallucinogenic hotcakes made by an Australian rock combo.

Celarie pulls out all the stops as the energetic flake who never saw a low-cut shirt or skintight dress she didn’t like, co-scripter Chazal is perky and likable, and Lhermitte is an affable dunce. But their predicaments are rarely sufficiently outrageous to keep the comic momentum stoked.

The otherwise straightforward lensing nicely mimics dopey rock videos and conveys Brice’s twisted p.o.v. when the dope pancakes take effect during an important business meeting. Costumes perfectly situate the contrasting lifestyles on display, and the incorporated songs are delectably awful.

The Sun Sisters

French

Production

A GBVI release (in France) of an Alter Films/Ouille Prods./Gaumont/France 2 Cinema/France 3 Cinema production, with participation of Canal Plus. Produced by Alain Terzian. Co-executive producer, Christian Clavier. Directed by Jeannot Szwarc. Screenplay, Marie-Anne Chazal, Michel Delgado.

Crew

Camera (color), Fabio Conversi; editor, Catherine Kelber; music, Eric Levi; production design, Hugues Tissandier; costume design, Charlotte David; sound (Dolby), Claude Villand, Bernard Leroux; assistant director, Henri Grimault; casting, Gerard Moulevrier. Reviewed at UGC Odeon Cinema, Paris, Apr. 14, 1997. Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Benedicte ..... Marie-Anne Chazal Brice ..... Thierry Lhermitte Gloria ..... Clementine Celarie
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