The film falls prey to romantic comedy cliches, but its silly slapstick humour is bound to make even the grumpiest people laugh.
As frothy and frivolous as the genre commonly suggests, French effort Fly Me to the Moon (Un plan parfait) offers a scenario that can only be seen in romantic comedies – one fuelled by superstition, sentimentality, and pure female-centric escapism. In his first film since 2010’s unexpected hit Heartbreaker, director Pascal Chaumeil again takes the high concept, odd couple, culture clash approach to amorous amusement, with duplicity and deceit still part of the outlandish affair. Of course, the supposedly noble and all-encompassing pursuit of love remains at the heart of the narrative and emotional trickery.
The details inform a Christmas-time dinner party chat, commenced when the recently-divorced Valerie (Laure Calamy, 9 Month Stretch) disrupts the merriment with her many middle-aged miseries. Better things are still to come, placates Corinne (Alice Pol, Romantics Anonymous), sharing the family trend of failed first marriages begetting idyllic second unions. The tale of her sister, Isabelle (Diane Kruger, Farewell, My Queen), provides her ultimate example: desperate for wedded bliss with the perfect Pierre (Robert Plagnol, TV’s Contraband), Isabelle duped spontaneous stranger Jean-Yves (Dany Boon, Nothing to Declare) into matrimony first to break the curse.
Re-teaming with screenwriters Laurent Zeitoun and Yoann Gromb, with collaboration from Béatrice Fournera (Les Mythos) based on a story by Philippe Mechelen (Radio Stars), Chaumeil endeavours to recapture the energy that made his previous feature such fun, his efforts never nuanced or subtle. All the obvious elements are replicated, from the chaotic premise that requires a willing suspension of disbelief, to the slapstick physicality that elicits simple laughs, to the ever-popular insertion of crowd-pleasing dance scenes. Alas, in combining reminiscence with ridiculous flights of fancy, his attempts are only intermittently successful.
The story, reliant as it is upon the desperation of a woman to do anything to snag her perfect husband, troubles in its manipulation even as it trifles with evident triviality; the film’s French-language title, translated as A Perfect Plan, perhaps gives a better picture of the underlying mentality. That the filmmaker and his cast thankfully never take anything too seriously is to the feature’s benefit, helping lessen such a stereotypical stance. Indeed, it is the central pairing that persuasively sells the surrounding silliness.
Boon’s affable talents have been well established, the evident everyman often the unlikely but agreeable counterpoint; Kruger’s skills as a rom-com lead, after a career predicated upon tougher fare, are decidedly less so. Though their characters are clichéd and forced together only by cartoonish contrivance, their coupling convinces in their easy rapport, drawing out the best in both performers. Empathy resonates as their bond solidifies, driven by chemistry rather than the narrative circumstances. Gorgeously shot continent-hopping settings provide a lush backdrop for their interactions; however the actors remain the key. Fly Me to the Moon soars only when their charms combine – the rest is standard sitcom fodder.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Fly Me to the Moon (Un plan parfait)
Director: Pascal Chaumeil
France, 2012, 104 mins
Release date: October 31
Distributor: Madman Entertainment