strange as it seems, some frenchcomedies shouldn't be remade by Hollywood. Dad On The Run is one of them.Clément Sibony plays Jonas, a 23-year-old Jewish student and musician who's become a father for the first time.
Jonas learns that according to Jewish tradition he must bury his son's foreskin within three days of the circumcision. At the last possible minute, he heads out into the Parisian night to get the job done, but runs into series of obstacles, including a bunch of thugs looking to beat him up and a Catholic woman (Rona Hartner) obsessed with touching the Pope's robes.
First-time director Desarthe based the film on his own experience trying to dig a hole in the frozen earth with a soup spoon to bury his own son's foreskin. He thought the surreal moment would serve as a comic centrepiece to a movie. Sorry, bad idea.
The problem is that Jonas, the 23-year-old hero, is very young, relatively inexperienced and unformed. Quest comedies need an interesting loser, someone we can watch screw up over and over again yet still find sympathetic.
Take Griffin Dunne In Martin Scorsese's After Hours. Dunne's neurotic computer operator, who's put upon by women who won't let him leave downtown Manhattan, is driven by his lust, curiosity, honesty and good heart. There's always an ethical dilemma associated with his decisions, and we're always watching him think.
Or there's the late Jack Lemmon's (see Legacy, page 67) turn as a midwestern businessman who, along with wife Sandy Dennis, survives a hellish trip to New York in The Out-Of-Towners.
He was the master of loserdom, playing the straight man to bad karma, and because he never went looking for laughs, he made us howl at the comedic repercussions of his minor tragedies.
Dad On The Run needs a more complicated hero and a much better script. The inclusion of thousands of Catholic youths celebrating the Pope's visit to Paris feels clumsy, and Desarthe's attempt to contrast Judaism and Catholicism just doesn't work.
Dad on the run directed by Dante Desarthe, written by Desarthe and Agnès Desarthe, produced by Fabrice Guez and Marin Karmitz, with Clément Sibony, Rona Hartner, Isaac Sharry and Emmanuelle Devos. 90 minutes. A Mongrel Media release. Opens Friday (July 6). Rating: NN