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Spy spoof with a Gallic twist

21-May-2010 • Bond Style

Years before Ian Fleming birthed James Bond, code name 007, author Jean Bruce sired Hubert de la Bonisseur de la Bath, French superspy and superstud of his "OSS 117" novels. Though many of the OSS books were filmed, they were forgotten once Sean Connery bonded, so to speak, with audiences.

Enter French director Michel Hazanavicius, correctly suspecting that 117, a smug undercover op who enjoys a reputation for his under-the-covers work, too, might be ripe for an Austin Powers-type parody -- reports Philly.com.

OSS 117: Lost in Rio, sequel to Hazanavicius' 2006 hit, OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies, spiffily spoofs spy flicks - and spy spoofs. This French cousin of Austin Powers is a mash-up of James Bond, The Pink Panther , and Alfred Hitchcock thrillers. One might well call it "The Spy Who Loved Himself."

The audience need not be familiar with Dr. No, That Man From Rio or North by Northwest in order to get the joke. For actor Jean Dujardin plays the part of De la Bath, blithely oblivious superspy. He's suave but stupid, like Pepe Le Pew in an ascot.

More attuned to female geography than to geopolitics, De La Bath is a hilarious anachronism who naturally assumes that his sexual interest is reciprocated. This, even when paired with fetching Israeli Mossad agent, Dolorès Koulechov (Louise Monot), who thinks he's a chauvinist, anti-Semitic pig.

Hazanavicius parodies the jump cuts and split-screen effects of 1960's movies to great comic effect. He sends up mod moviemaking as he sends up self-satisfied Frenchmen. It's larky, snarky fun.

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