A member of the hoi polloi infiltrates the world of the Beautiful People with amusing if predictable results in "Jet Set," an agreeable comedy in which rich and poor alike inhabit their respective stereotypes with jaunty good humor. Just inventive enough to keep auds on its side, pic gives thesps a chance to go to town playing frivolous aristocrats from many lands. Fluffy, enjoyable pic -- the fourth and most overtly funny feature from writer-director Fabien Onteniente -- got off to a promising start at local wickets in mid-June and could make the rounds of Euro and South American hardtops.

A member of the hoi polloi infiltrates the world of the Beautiful People with amusing if predictable results in “Jet Set,” an agreeable comedy in which rich and poor alike inhabit their respective stereotypes with jaunty good humor. Just inventive enough to keep auds on its side, pic gives thesps a chance to go to town playing frivolous aristocrats from many lands. Fluffy, enjoyable pic — the fourth and most overtly funny feature from writer-director Fabien Onteniente — got off to a promising start at local wickets in mid-June and could make the rounds of Euro and South American hardtops.

In the working-class Paris suburb of Montreuil, the Bombay Bar, an India-themed neighborhood cafe, is about to be shut down by creditors. Lydia (Estelle Larrivaz), wife of owner Jimmy (Bruno Solo), is pregnant to the gills and unenthused about the prospect of “giving birth between two process servers” when the fawningly shallow TV show “Riches et Sympas” (“Nice and Rich”) gives Jimmy and his biz partner, Fifi (Lorant Deutsch), an idea: Once the “right” people give their blessing to a joint, its reputation is made.

Jimmy convinces buddy Mike (Samuel Le Bihan), an out-of-work actor and T-shirt-and-jeans kind of guy, to pose as a nobleman, make friends with the moneyed and titled and lure them away from their customary luxury haunts to the humble Bombay Bar.

Mike’s pals give him a phony aristo title, print up calling cards and send him off to crash a hoity-toity charity ball. There he meets self-aware society fixture Arthus de Poulignac (Lambert Wilson, in a delectably foppish perf) and an exotic Egyptian widow (Ornella Muti), who immediately welcomes Mike to her satin sheets and just as quickly tires of him when given a chance to trade up.

Mike’s ace in the hole is a box of file cards concerning the jet set that his mom has been diligently clipping from glamour rags and annotating for decades. Mike gets housed in the private manor of Evrard (newcomer Guillaume Gallienne, genuinely touching), who runs a Web site for blue bloods and hopes to find a suitably illustrious mate with whom to continue his ancient line. But problems arise when Mike becomes rather too fond of the upper-crust lifestyle.

In addition to Wilson’s exemplary turn and Le Bihan’s appealing central perf, Jose Garcia is a hoot as a loopy Brazilian playboy and Aurore Clement is pitch-perfect as a congenitally cordial but literal-minded PR to high society.

Wardrobe, plastic surgery, family heirlooms and the like are lampooned as the movie unfolds. Sweet instead of scathing, pic shines as a portrait of determined superficiality but follows utterly conventional plotting in the home stretch. Fun score of pop hits is a peppy fit.

Jet Set

France-Spain

Production

A Bac Films release (in France) of a Mandarin Films, TF1 Films Prod. (France)/Filmart (Spain) production, with participation of Canal Plus and Bac Films. Produced by Eric and Nicolas Altmayer. Directed by Fabien Onteniente. Screenplay, Onteniente, Emmanuel de Brantes, Bruno Solo, Olivier Chavarot.

Crew

Camera (color), Franco Di Giacomo; editor, Nathalie Hubert; music, Loik Dury & Crew; art director, Olivier Raoux; costume designer, Jean-Marc Mirete; sound (Dolby), Philippe Senechal, Joel Rangon; assistant director, Odile Abergel; casting, Bruno Levy. Reviewed at Pathe Palace, Avignon, France, June 22, 2000. Running time: 103 MIN.

With

Mike - Samuel Le Bihan Arthus de Poulignac - Lambert Wilson Camilla Balbeck - Ornella Muti Andrea Dionakis - Ariadna Gil Jimmy - Bruno Solo Mellor da Silva - Jose Garcia Evrard - Guillaume Gallienne Nicole Schutz - Aurore Clement Daniele Joubert - Elli Medeiros Lydia - Estelle Larrivaz Fifi - Lorant Deutsch
With: Antoinette Moya, Marina Tome, Armelle.
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