Review: ‘Coco’

Not to be confused with the series of Chanel biopics coming out later this year, outre bar mitzvah comedy "Coco" both entertains and disappoints in its drive for excess.

Not to be confused with the series of Chanel biopics coming out later this year, outre bar mitzvah comedy “Coco” both entertains and disappoints in its drive for excess. Helming debut from standup star Gad Elmaleh adapts one of his sketches — a flamboyant multimillionaire wants to make his son’s big day the biggest in history — into a panoply of gags that mock French Sephardic Jews the same way “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” mocked disco-loving Israeli immigrants. Boosted by Elmaleh’s fame, the mid-March release nabbed nearly 2 million admissions in its opening week. Beyond Gaul, biz looks less ritzy.

Some genuinely funny jokes make the first half easy to digest, but then the gushiness kicks in. As Coco (Elmaleh) tries to smooth things out with his wife (Pascale Arbillot), mom (Gladys Cohen) and son (Nicolas Jouxtel) — who all think he’s taking the bar mitzvah plans way too far — the napkin-sketched plot tiredly works its way to a conclusion. What remains is Elmaleh’s impressive, nonstop energy, the use of the term “goyfriend” and a pair of dogs crudely named Dolce and Gabbana. Like his protag, Elmaleh’s direction is garishly in-your-face.

Coco

France

Production

A StudioCanal release of a Legende, Legende Films, KS2 Cinema, StudioCanal, TF1 Films Prod. production, with participation of Canal Plus. (International sales: StudioCanal, Paris.) Produced by Ilan Goldman. Directed by Gad Elmaleh. Screenplay, Elmaleh, Caroline Thivel.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Gilles Henry; editor, Jennifer Auge; music, Stephane Lopez; production designer, Jacques Rouxel; costume designer, Carine Sarfati. Reviewed at UGC Cine Cite Les Halles 3, Paris, Mar. 28, 2008. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Gad Elmaleh, Pascale Arbillot, Jean Benguigui, Manu Payet, Gladys Cohen, Ary Abittan, Daniel Cohen, Noemie Lvovsky, Jacques Spiesser, Alexis Sellam, Gerard Depardieu, Enrico Macias, Nicolas Jouxtel.
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