Aware that her femme relatives all endured lousy marriages before tying the knot with Mr. Right, a Frenchwoman decides to preemptively marry an idiot for a day in “Fly Me to the Moon,” Gallic filmmaker Pascal Chaumeil’s follow-up to his breakout hit “Heartbreaker.” Another high-concept romantic comedy, this good-looking but structurally problematic pic trots the globe as Diane Kruger tries to convince travel writer Dany Boon to wed and subsequently divorce her so she can safely marry her actual dreamboat. Gallic B.O. should be decent if not sky-high; non-Francophone potential lies more in the remake arena.
Pic feels like a variation on last year’s French laffer “Second Chance,” in which a man realizes he’s a bad-luck charm for the women he dates. Like that film, “Moon” has a curse conceit that auds will have to buy into, though here screenwriters Yoann Gromb and Laurent Zeitoun (both “Heartbreaker” alums), working with co-scribe Beatrice Fournera, niftily present their yarn as a potentially tall tale told at a dinner party.
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The story is recounted by Corinne (Alice Pol) to cheer up Valerie (Laure Calamy), a middle-aged crybaby who’s just been dumped. Protag of the story-within-the-story is Corinne’s dentist sister, Isabelle (Kruger), who’s madly in love with the almost too-perfect Pierre (Robert Plagnol), with whom she shares a dentistry practice. But since the women in her Franco-German family have for generations been unlucky in their first marriages, Isabelle is afraid to walk down the aisle with Pierre, so she ends up accepting Corinne’s suggestion to marry just anyone to get rid of the curse, quickly divorce and then live happily ever after.
After a botched attempt in Denmark, Isabelle convinces herself the simpleton sitting next her on the plane, guidebook writer Jean-Yves (Boon, “Welcome to the Sticks”), should do the trick. In order to achieve her goal, she follows the self-absorbed Jean-Yves to Kenya, where the improbable duo get into a lot of screwball-territory trouble that includes falling into pools, eating scary local foodstuffs and, in an imposingly convincing sequence, facing a lion on a trip to Kilimanjaro. Their Massai wedding delivers a halfway happy ending of sorts.
But back in Paris, there’s more trouble in store, as Jean-Yves has no intention of letting his newfound spouse go and has officially registered their marriage in France, just a month before Isabelle’s set to say “I do” to Pierre, who’s blissfully unaware of his bride-to-be’s actions. This results in a trip to Jean-Yves’ dingy home in Moscow, where the ditzy dentist tries to play the wife from hell in order to get Jean-Yves to agree to a divorce.
Kruger is so at ease here, it’s a mystery that she’s never been cast as a romantic-comedy lead before. Displaying exactly the right kind of lovable sincerity that justifies her character’s occasionally crass actions, the actress is not afraid to look ridiculous, yet she’s also down-to-earth enough to give her character a real edge. The same can’t always be said of the more mannered, overly broad Boon (who co-starred with Kruger in “Merry Christmas”), although his grimacing ways are perfectly suited to a hilarious setpiece in which Jean-Yves visits Isabelle at work.
The couple’s chemistry is persuasive, especially in the crucial second half, and Chaumeil again demonstrates a keen eye for balancing character and situational comedy against a glamorous backdrop. That the film itself doesn’t entirely convince is mainly due to a structural flaw: Genre conventions demand that Isabelle and Jean-Yves fall for each other despite their differences, which paints the story’s supposed Mr. Right, Pierre, into a corner, forcing the screenplay to jump through several ill-motivated hoops to solve this problem. That said, the pic’s church-set finale impressively brings together many earlier elements without resorting to wedding-themed chestnuts.
Ace d.p. Glynn Speeckaert, working in slick widescreen, delivers sophisticated work that’s not only in tune with the multiple locales but always in service of the comedy; ditto the production design and costumes. Klaus Badelt’s score is supportive if generic, and special effects are seamlessly integrated, as could be expected for a big-budget (for France) production from Quad, the company behind not only “Heartbreaker” but also “The Intouchables.”