Though never hitting “Patch Adams” heights of megaschmaltz, this based-on-a-true-story heroic account of French-Algerian clown Miloud Oukili, who rescued Romanian children from pain and humiliation in the sewers of Budapest, arrives awash in facile sentimentality. Oukili’s unconventional but empowering methods of granting the kids economic independence (Let’s put on a circus!) are unquestionably laudable, and the kids’ perfs are moving, but “PA-RA-DA” never rises above biopic inspirationalism. Cable may offer the best fit for the pic’s unholy mix of mime and child prostitution.
Lining up his heroes and villains (artists and social workers on the side of the angels, the police and official charitable institutions on the side of the exploiters and the status quo), helmer Marco Pontecorvo lets his clown loose amid post-Ceausescu chaos. Patiently weaning his charges from glue-sniffing dependence on various pimps and Fagins, Jalil Lespert’s Miloud comes equipped with only two gears: upbeat puckishness and righteous anger. Fighting bureaucracy and corruption with juggling and human pyramids, Miloud inevitably triumphs, to the shock of everyone onscreen and to the surprise of no one in the audience.
— Ronnie Scheib