Two's company, three's a crowd and eight is definitely way more than enough in writer-director Daniele Thompson's mismanaged comic ensembler, "Change of Plans."

Two’s company, three’s a crowd and eight is definitely way more than enough in writer-director Daniele Thompson’s mismanaged comic ensembler, “Change of Plans.” Less a crowdpleaser and more a headscratcher than her previous hit, “Avenue Montaigne,” pic follows four fortysomething couples who spend one summer night’s dinner gabbing about love, life and extramarital relationships. Rarely satisfying, despite adequate perfs by an all-star cast, the film should score OK locally, with possible overseas pickups.

Centered around a dinner party that takes place during the annual summertime “Fete de la musique” in Paris, the opening reels trail various high-class couples as they head to the oversized apartment of ruthless divorce lawyer ML (Karin Viard) and her unemployed hubby, Piotr (Dany Boon).

Among the invites are: oncologist Alain (Patrick Bruel) and his gynecologist wife, Melanie (Marina Fois); hotshot attorney Lucas (Patrick Thompson) and his smug but seductive housewife, Sarah (Emmanuelle Seigner); and commercial actor Erwann (Patrick Chesnais) and his much younger g.f., Juliette (Marina Hands), who’s also ML’s sister.

As can be expected when a bunch of wealthy, beautiful and successful Parisians get together, the couples begin revealing their dissatisfaction with their partners. It’s soon obvious they’re all having, or planning on having, affairs.

Given the sheer number of protags and kiss-and-tell stories that inhabit the plot, Thompson and her usual co-scribe, son Christopher, spend most of the pic’s first half trying to explain who’s sleeping with whom, who wants to sleep with whom, and who wants to stop sleeping with whom. Once those details are more or less fleshed out, the film jumps to a year later, and then flashes back several times to the infamous dinner. A piecemeal denouement ends things in a loose and abrupt fashion.

Never giving the characters enough depth to evolve beyond their socioprofessional archetypes, the dialogue-drowned script rattles through a laundry list of mostly predictable situations. When the scenario attempts, in the third section, to add a series of tragic events, the handling is never engaging enough to produce full-scale drama.

Strong thesping, especially by Seigner (“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”) and Hands (“Lady Chatterley”), makes up for the slackness of certain scenes. But other perfs, especially Bruel’s hammy doctor and Boon’s (“Welcome to the Sticks”) milquetoast homebody, are neither funny nor captivating.

Lensing by Jean-Marc Fabre (“The Adversary”) is overlit and clearly geared for the tube.

Change of Plans

France

Production

A StudioCanal release of a Thelma Films, Alter Films, StudioCanal, TF1 Films Prod., Radis Films Prod. production, with participation of Canal Plus, CNC. (International sales: StudioCanal, Paris.) Produced by Christine Gozlan, Alain Terzian. Executive producer, David Poirot. Directed by Daniele Thompson. Screenplay, Daniele Thompson, Christopher Thompson.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Jean-Marc Fabre; editor, Sylvie Landra; music, Nicola Piovani; production designer, Michele Abbe; costume designer, Catherine Leterrier; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS Digital), Jean-Pierre Duret, Frederic Lelouet, Vincent Arnardi, Igor Thomas Gerard; assistant director, Denis Berghone; casting, Constance Demontoy. Reviewed at UGC Cine Cite Les Halles 10, Paris, Feb. 21, 2009. Running time: 100 MIN.

With

Karin Viard, Dany Boon, Marina Fois, Patrick Bruel, Emmanuelle Seigner, Christopher Thompson, Marina Hands, Patrick Chesnais, Blanca Li, Laurent Stocker, Pierre Arditi.
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