8 July 2007 | guy-bellinger
A masterpiece...in uselessness!
Philippe Clair is a case! He is one those rare directors who is able to flunk in every department of his "art". The most commonly mentioned champion of tackiness, Ed Wood, may rest in peace. Compared to Philippe Clair, he is a genius. He may occasionally have an original idea and I know at least one of his films that I would call above average ("Bride of the Monster"). But Clair is synonymous with absolute perfection in the field of hopelessness: ALL his films are absolutely pathetic and, as is the case in "Comment se faire reformer" (literally: How to be declared unfit for service), EVERY SINGLE MINUTE IS BAD, bad beyond belief. The subject first is trite and, propitious for vulgarity: there have been zillions of such military farces and few of any interest ("Tire-au-Flanc" being one of the exceptions). On the other hand, the actors are ALL unanimously bad, hamming their part shamelessly, the worst two being Daniel Derval , a real pain as the phony queen, and Philippe Clair himself as the idiotic warrant officer. Besides the basic plot ( all the duds in question do not want to be in the army, do their utmost to be sent back home and constantly fail), there is no real story, only an incoherent series of sketches which prove unfunny although they are devised to make the viewer split his sides with laughing. And everybody knows there is nothing worse than someone wanting to be funny and not being able to: Ed Wood trying to be serious can make you grin but not a would-be clown unable to draw any laughs! What little rhythm there could be is regularly annihilated by the undue length of certain sequences (the never-ending dancing lesson, the recurrent "love" scenes). Nearly all the gags fall flat, whether they are hackneyed (the short one does a bigger wee-wee than his stout counterpart!), repetitive (the hippie constantly asking: "Can you spare a dime?", the yogi invariably levitating, the lot
: Philippe Clair obviously mistakes repetition comedy with repetitive comedy!) or stereotyped (the Belgian is stupid, homosexuals are ridiculous, and everything in keeping.)
A monument of its kind, "outsmarted" only by "Le Führer en Folie", Clair's ultimate "work", and to my mind, the most incredibly stupid film ever made. So stupid, overplayed and making so little sense that it defies the imagination!