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An homage to classic spy films. It's 1955 and after a fellow agent and close friend disappears, secret agent Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, a.k.a. OSS 117, is ordered to take his place at the head of a poultry firm in Cairo. This is to be his cover while he is busy investigating, foiling Nazi holdouts, quelling a fundamentalist rebellion, and bedding local beauties.Written by
Jean Dujardin gets Connery's mannerisms down pat: the adjusting the cuff links when entering a club as all the women turn to admire him, the nonchalant straightening and smoothing down of the tie, the swaggering, steely gait. It's uncanny, and you come to realise just how much of Bond in the Sixties was Connery's creation and not really Ian Fleming's character.
The cinematography is a nod to those early films, the movie takes off From Russia With Love and Thunderball mainly. The main joke is how chauvinistic the hero is, not just in terms of sexism but nationalism and colonialism, and how he puts noses out of joint when he is sent to Egypt.
It's not perfect - about 20 mins in it seems a one-joke movie and bits of it remind one of spoofs of the day, of which there were plenty. Morcecambe and Wise's The Intelligence Men had suspect-looking men in fez's following their heroes around too, and that's going back a bit. Unlike Sellers' Clouseau or Baron Cohen's Borat, Dujardin doesn't give his character that layer of realness or genuine pathos - he is too busy perfecting his Connery mannerisms. It doesn't do enough with the credits or a big song, and there's no funny or serious villain, like Mike Myers' Dr Evil or Ricardo Montalban's Naked Gun nemesis, for the hero to go up against.
But the scene where OSS117 wakes up in Cairo one morning had me laughing out loud in the three-quarters empty cinema, and the whole thing looks wonderful, plus you'll never get a chance to see Operation Kid Brother on the screen, and the women are ace crumpet, really hot. It's a Bond spoof without falling into the mad scientist/Ken Adam sets or funny gadgets routine. Throughly recommended.
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