When I think of French cinema, I think of the stylistic boundary-pushing of Jean-Luc Godard, the action films of Luc Besson, and films with sexual content that toes the line between artistic and pornography. I don’t usually think of slapstick buddy comedies. Well, leave it to my French roommate to show me that there is more to French cinema than high-brow arthouse films. I have two foreign roommates (one French, a guy, and one Japanese, a girl) that are both in their early 30’s. My French roommate and I had already bonded over Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita, and since I often feel like I hog the TV in the living room of our apartment (even though it’s my television, I still like to share), I let my roommate pick a movie for us to watch last night, and he picked the French comedy La Chevre (which translates to The Goat), starring French film icon, Gerard Depardieu. It wasn’t the best comedy I’ve ever seen but if you’re a fan of slapstick and buddy cop films, you may find yourself enjoying quite a few chuckles thanks to La Chevre.

When the daughter of a wealthy industrialist is kidnapped (this is beginning to sound like the intro to either of my Girl With the Dragon Tattoo reviews), her father hires private investigator Campana (Gerard Depardieu) to find her. The daughter is catastrophically unlucky, and the industrialist believes that the only way they’ll be able to find her (since Campana spent 42 days in Mexico searching for her to no avail) is to pair Campana with someone as unlucky as the industrialist’s daughter. Thus, they find Francois Perrin (Pierre Richard), an accountant working in the financial department of the company, and the only person on the planet who may be as clumsy and accident prone as the industrialist’s daughter. So, Campana and Francois set off to Mexico to find the daughter while Francois causes a tornado’s worth of damage and injury to himself and everyone around him as the slowly inch closer and closer to finding the daughter.

I had never seen a Gerard Depardieu film before this (unless you count his smaller English speaking role in The Man in the Iron Mask), and while I’m not really sure what the big deal about him is other than his massive nose, he was a well-cast straight man to the more obvious comic relief of Pierre Richard. Pierre Richard reminded me of what Peter Seller’s Inspector Clousseau would have been like had Peter Sellers actually been French, and I can easily see where The Pink Panther films had an influence on this movie. Pierre Richard was quite skilled at more physical humor and despite the broad nature of most of the physical humor in the film, he also had a great deadpan delivery for most of his jokes. The movie didn’t always make me laugh, and at times, it felt like it was just meant to be a vehicle for promoting Gerard Depardieu’s tough-guy image that is his thing in France, but when it did hit the right notes, it was a great example of foreign slapstick.

La Chevre is far from the best French film I’ve seen, but it’s not the worst, and it certainly isn’t the most boring, but if you liked the buddy cop movies of the 1980’s like 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon, and Beverly Hills Cop, you’ll probably find something to like about La Chevre. Gerard Depardieu is a French film legend, and while I don’t yet understand why that’s the case and I wish that my first exposure to his acting had been in one of his more iconic roles/films, he did a good job and Pierre Richard was an underappreciated comic delight. My roommate tells me that the two were in a series of movies like this during the 80’s so maybe at some point I’ll watch a couple more of them. Anyways, if you only ever thought the French made serious movies, check out La Chevre to see that they can tickle your funny bone just as much as your artsy sides.

Final Score: B-

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