I Spy Something Goofy
OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies: Directed by Michel Hazanavicius. Written by Hazanavicius and Jean-François Halin, based on characters by Jean Bruce. Music Box Films, 2008. 99 minutes.
This spy spoof will likely fall flat for all but the most fervent fans of certain other spy films (no, I don’t mean Austin Powers). Its accidental hero is the blandly brash and self-confident Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath (Jean Dujardin, whose eyebrows are shockingly mobile), aka OSS 117, who seems to succeed in his missions via sheer hubris and luck (though he feels like a send-up of Bond, the character’s appearance in novels actually predates Ian Fleming’s creation). He’s sent to Egypt to work out what’s happened to a colleague; there, he’s shocked to find his contact is a beautiful woman, Larmina (Bérénice Bejo), whose job is mostly to point out how utterly hopeless OSS 117 is. Hubert makes mistakes, doesn’t see clues, regards the call to prayer as a personal affront to his sleep and generally stumbles through a plot involving Nazis, Russians, an angry imam and a few double-crosses. It’s all quite light, and though the film looks nice enough (the greenscreen shots in cars, the drivers of which are constantly twisting the wheels, are oddly amusing), there’s no kick to the plot, no excitement in the action and not a lot of laughs to be had. But if Get Smart isn’t enough bumbling spy action for your week, OSS 117 might meet your needs. — Molly Templeton
OSS 117 opens Friday, June 20, at the Bijou.