“Foon” is a mind-bogglingly silly, yet astute one-joke movie that sends up the environment already sent up by “Grease” while nailing the essence of what American pop culture hath wrought. Take your high school French to this Gallic riff on American high school, a love-it-or-hate-it musical comedy with good music, snappy lyrics and spot-on artistic control. Co-written and co-directed by, and starring, a young eight-thesp comedy ensemble called Les Quiches, pic did minimal biz on its Nov. 30 release, but it’s an accomplished oddity that deserves to travel.
Pic’s gimmick is that every line of dialogue is delivered in a patois that sounds like a French-English dictionary put in a blender. Examples include: “Si vous please,” “Thank you beaucoup” and “Apres you, Mademoiselle.” A sign on the cafeteria wall says “Don’t Parle the Mouth Please” instead of “No Talking.”
With its neatly limned archetypes, narrative sends up the Hollywood cult of the character arc. For 15 years, the prom has been reserved for the Foons — a conflation of “fun” and “cool,” French-style — but this time the dorks can come, too. The eternal rivalry between the cool kids and the nerds is replayed with admirably spot-on costumes and hairdos.
The well-crafted kitsch that grew tiresome in the recent screen rendition of “Reefer Madness” holds up better here. Scenes are played absolutely straight in the hybrid lingo.
The meta-mockery dips into such classics as “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” — in the sick symbiosis between the principal Miss Smokingkills and her wheelchair-bound lieutenant, Miss Ashtrey — as well as, of course, “Carrie.” There’s also a fantasy retake on the Zapruder film and a tasteless (but funny) fashion show for Nazi garb.
English subtitles in print caught do a creative job of translating the mechanism, which means anyone can enjoy the shenanigans leading up to the prom. But the full measure of script’s irreverence will be best appreciated by auds who are fluent in both languages. They will trouve this full of zee guilt and zee plaisir.