Review: ‘A Day at the Museum’

All-star, high-concept comedy "A Day at the Museum" proves that only the French could produce a feature consisting mostly of one-liners about Gauguin, Modigliani and the sexual practices of impressionist painters.

All-star, high-concept comedy “A Day at the Museum” proves that only the French could produce a feature consisting mostly of one-liners about Gauguin, Modigliani and the sexual practices of impressionist painters. Otherwise, this spoof of an all-purpose art museum by writer-director Jean-Michel Ribes (who penned Alain Resnais’ “Private Fears in Public Places”) offers little for viewers who don’t find puns on the noun Kandinsky or jokes like, “Is Matisse a Jewish name?” especially funny. Pic’s marquee cast should draw early crowds in Gaul, but poor word of mouth will close this exhibit before it ever travels abroad.

Despite an intriguing idea — who doesn’t want to make fun of the high-art world? — most of the film’s gags are a lot less clever than the works they’re poking fun at. Somewhere in between lies a threadbare plot involving a natural disaster threatening the existence of the wacky institution, as herds of ignorant tourists shuffle from one gallery to the next, making stupid comments or facing shocking displays of contemporary art (including — surprise of surprises — giant-penis photos). Pic was shot partially at the restored Musee du Petit Palais.

A Day at the Museum

France

Production

A Warner Bros. France release of an Epithete Films, Mon Voisin production, in association with La Banque Postale Image, Banque Populaire Images 8, Cinemage 2, with participation of Canal Plus, TPS Star, France 3. (International sales: Kinology, Paris.) Produced by Frederic Brillon, Gilles Legrand. Executive producers, Frederic Brillon, Gilles Legrand. Directed, written by Jean-Michel Ribes.

Crew

Camera (color), Pascal Ridao; editor, Yann Malcor; music, Reinhardt Wagner; production designer, Pascal Dutertre. Reviewed at La Bastille 1, Paris, Nov 20, 2008. Original title: Musee haut musee bas. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Michel Blanc, Victoria Abril, Pierre Arditti, Josiane Balasko, Isabelle Carre, Francois-Xavier Demaison, Andre Dussollier, Julie Ferrier, Annie Gregorio, Gerard Jugnot, Fabrice Luchini, Yolande Moreau, Francois Morel, Dominique Pinon, Daniel Prevost, Muriel Robin.
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