Review: ‘Dream House’

The North African curse, "May you undertake renovations in your home," blossoms to comic effect in "Dream House." First hour is quite entertaining, although compound misfortunes grow progressively more heavyhanded. Comedy fests should visit this property.

The North African curse, “May you undertake renovations in your home,” blossoms to comic effect in “Dream House.” Adapted from his hit 2003 play and starring Dany Boon (“Merry Christmas,” “The Valet”) in his helming debut, no good turn goes unpunished as the protag secretly impulse-purchases a getaway house  in order to prove to his adored wife that he’s not a tightwad.  First hour is quite entertaining, although compound misfortunes grow progressively more heavyhanded. Comedy fests should visit this property.

Charles Boulin (Boon) and his translator wife Anne (Michele Laroque) live in a central Paris penthouse with their 17-year-old daughter. Since Charles confronts the consequences of cavalier spending every day in his work as an ersatz mortgage company repo man trained to help indebted clients disadvantageously refinance their loans, he’s a penny-pincher. The fact that they live comfortably but never splurge irritates Anne.

Determined to prove he’s not a cheapskate — and to surprise Anne for their wedding anniversary — Charles secretly buys a country home from monumentally unscrupulous smooth-talking realtor Jean-Pierre Draquart (Daniel Prevost). The tyranny of living even a micron beyond one’s means kicks in with a vengeance as construction calamities, courtesy of bumbling handymen Mouloud Mami (Zinedine Soualem) and Donatello Pirelli (Laurent Gamelon), proliferate.

The irony is extra thick when Charles is fired. He can’t find a new job as lucrative as his old one, the cost of renovations soars, savings evaporate and he’s suddenly in way over his head — all without his beloved wife’s knowledge.

While anybody who has ever endured home improvements knows that anything that can go wrong will, pic is less satisfying when mere exaggeration takes a few overly convenient dramatic turns.

Standup comic Boon pulls off helming duties with better-than-average skill. Perfs are fine, and score bouncy.

Dream House

France

Production

A Pathe Distribution release of a Claude Berri presentation of a Pathe Renn Prods., TF1 Films Prod., Les Prods. du Ch'Timi production with participation of Canal Plus, CineCinemas. (International sales: Pathe, Paris.) Produced by Claude Berri. Executive producer, Pierre Grunstein. Directed, written by Dany Boon, based on his play "La Vie de chantier."

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Jean-Marie Dreujou; editor, Luc Barnier; music, Philippe Rombi; production designer, Laurent Piron; sound (Dolby), Vincent Montrobert, Francois Groult, Laurent Poirier; associate producer, Nathalie Rheims; casting, Dany Boon. Reviewed at UGC Odeon, Paris,  June 19, 2006. Running time: 98 MIN.

With

Dany Boon, Michele Laroque, Daniel Prevost, Zinedine Soualem, Laurent Gamelon, Line Renaud, Michel Vuillermoz, Gaelle Bona, Didier Flamand.
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