14 September 2011 | secondtake
Smart, snappy, hilarious, stylish--don't miss this James Bond spoof
OSS: 117 (2006)
I wish for a couple hours I was French, because I'm sure there were twice as many gags as I could get as an American reading subtitles. Even so, what a funny funny movie. It's not quite as zany as a spoof like "Airplane" (nor quite as funny, which of course is hard to do), but it takes the Sean Connery vintage James Bond film model and really does a parody worthy of 007. And of the franchise, which of course is bigger than Bond, bigger than Ian Fleming could have ever dreamed.
But hold your horses--this is a parody of the real OSS:117. Yes, a French author created a Bond-like spy in the 1950s, and this movie and its 2009 sequel are really playing a double-edged game. They bring the old French spy to life (the original was a French-speaking American, bizarrely enough), and they make fun of him, of Bond, and of 1960s super slick sexist movies all around.
The star here, the Sean Connery of this spoof (he even looks a bit like the Scottish actor), is Jean Dujardin. He's brilliant. He's funny, campy, silly, serious, and subtle about it all. He plays the role with a kind of oblivious self-ridicule that Woody Allen and Peter Sellers were so good at. It's great stuff.
And he's backed up by a strong, if somewhat predictable, assortment of international thugs, beauties, and oddballs. There are shades of "Charade" here as well as the original "Pink Panther" movies. The scoring is amazing, composed with that Henry Mancini flair to a T and recorded with the familiar bright, echoey sound studio fullness of the time. Equally authentic are the opening credits, which were so convincing I had to double check when the movie came out. I was thinking, wow, a lost 1960s gem.
But it's a brand new gem, or almost gem. Time will tell if this will hold up over the years, but it's a kind of must-see now for anyone into Bond films, the 60s, French humor, or just a well made movie with lots of gags. Like the gag where the noisy chickens go silent when the lights go off, and so our hero delights in turning the lights on, and off, and on, and off. Just wait and listen. It'll slay you.