Palace's release of writer-director-star Jérôme Commandeur's Irréductible/Employee of the Month is one of its first outings off home base. It's another retreaded European hit, struck off Gennaro Nunziante’s big earner 2016 Quo Vado. The Frog Speak copy seems to be repeating the success.
It's another one in the line of a star comic as a Frenchman who finds himself out of place in exotic settings. Think Pierre Richard in La chèvre, Belmondo in L'Homme de Rio,Montand in Le sauvage or Gerard Jugnot in Special Correspondents - an honorable tradition.
This one comes framed by scenes of bald Commandeur making his way through the rainforest in Stéphane Pezerat’s clapped out local taxi and being taken captive by the most dangerous tribe in the territory. Shaman Jean-Louis Loca, who can see men’s souls, demands he justify his life or be incinerated, fire being stoked at the center of their menacing circle of spectators.
Commandeur had settled into the security and smalll time graft of the French public service, joining in the office slacking activities the film montages.
However Ministerial Candidate Gérard Darmon appears on TV announcing a cut back on state spending. The room in the Town Hall empties as employees exempt from the cuts leave, with the handicapped fellow worker hobbling up the aisle last, leaving Jérôme alone. On the advice of Bolshy union adviser Christian Clavier, he refuses ambitious business suit blonde administrator Pascale Arbillot’s escalating Termination Pay Out offers and she re-locates him to increasingly impossible locations. These Yes Minister routines are over familiar and weak.
The film changes direction when Jerome gets a polar region posting and he finds himself dumped by helicopter in the storm. When his transport to the base shows up, he finds he is to be Tranquilliser Darting polar bears for fetching blonde scientist Laetitia Dosch. His first shot actually knocks down the indignant animal and she explains that sperm is a better indicator than blood. He proudly declares his work a success climaxed by giving an ours polar a hand job.
|Writer/Director/Star Jérôme Commandeur|
To his delight Dosch invites him along on holiday only for him to find her nice Scandinavian timber place filled with the children she had by previous lovers of which the last, Ezio Sutter, is still wandering about the house naked. (Where have we seen this before?) Turns out they all get along. Jerome goes to stubby Sutter’s marriage, to a woman who towers over him and wins Dosch, taking her back to his posting in his old home town where the blended family puts off the administrators, who place the kids in different schools while Jerome is put to administer an intimidating prison.
Clavier watching Castro speeches on TV in bed isn’t of all that much use but our hero’s training in graft means he’s a success moving contraband to the rapists and murderers. The film is picking up at this point.
Arbillot keeps upping the payoff and Dosch quits the drab urban setting for a post in a Jungle hospital. When he joins her, only to find the place run by impoverished volunteers, Jerome turns the situation to his advantage.
Despite the "I’ve been here before" feeling, this one gets better and more engaging as it goes. Cast is winning and the film making is polished. Throw in unexpected gags like Jerome praying to the Swiss Flag sign that pivots to form a cross in the blizard or the television playing former adoptive Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu rhapsodising on the attractions of France.
That's about as edgy as it gets. This one is not must-see world cinema but it does fill in time quite nicely.