The laughs keep coming at a good clip in “The Journey to Paris,” a lightweight, fairly enjoyable madcap comedy about a bumbling “Mr. Bean”-like character and his desperate attempt to visit the City of Light. Pic works mainly thanks to the manic charm of lead thesp Olivier Broche, and his endearing performance helps smooth over rough spots in not-so-original script. Pic will probably generate modest B.O. action in France, but the sitcom-like humor seems more suited to the small screen. Like the would-be tourist at the center of the yarn, pic is not likely to have much success traveling.
Daniel (Broche) is an inefficient tollbooth operator on a highway in rural France who is obsessed with Paris, the Eiffel Tower in particular. He decides to make the big trip to the city he loves so much, against the wishes of his domineering mom (Micheline Presle), and starts the epic journey by going to visit his cousin Jacques (Francois Morel), who lives on the outskirts of Paris.
Then things begin to go horribly wrong — mostly in vintage slapstick fashion. Jacques, a cabdriver, agrees to drive Daniel into town, but when he momentarily leaves his cab, a pregnant woman jumps in and insists that Daniel take the wheel and rush her to the hospital. In short order, the clumsy Daniel has a major traffic accident, totals Jacques’ car, is stuck with a couple of kids, is arrested for suspected child abuse and hauled off to the lunatic asylum.
Helmer Marc-Henri Dufresne won’t win any marks for originality here, but there’s rarely a dull moment as the pic careens from one outlandish comic scene to another; it’s all reasonably amusing, in lowbrow fashion. Broche is perfect as the likable goof with a terrific, loopy grin, and has a good feel for physical comedy. Tango-tinged score is suitably droll.