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8/11/16

L'AILE OU LA CUISSE - REVIEW


French comedy legends Louis De Funes and Coluche co-star in L'Aile Ou La Cuisse (aka The Wing Or Thigh?), a 1976 film in which De Funes plays a gourmet food critic who suspects that a fast-food chain is plotting to somehow stamp out good restaurants throughout the country and overseas.

On paper this one may not sound like much but the fact that Charles Duchemin (De Funes) is so cunning when it comes to reviewing restaurants that he goes as far as dressing up like little old ladies and carrying around a bunch of test tubes in his pockets to carry samples of food he thinks might not be that fresh makes for some pretty creative and funny moments. There's a subplot in which his son and only heir Gérard (Coluche) secretly wants to be a circus clown and the villain Jacques Tricatel (Julien Guiomar) is an amusingly animated slimeball. Unlike many other films in which Louis De Funes plays an angry, ebullient character, in L'Aile Ou La Cuisse he's much more of a good guy and although his trademark energy is very much there, he's a bit more restrained.

Everyone involved in the film is on top form including director Claude Zidi, composer Vladimir Cosma, both of whom are well known in France as comedy filmmaking giants and of course the cast. While De Funes and Coluche had very different styles of comedy, it somehow works in this movie since the son is reluctant to follow in his father's footsteps. This allows for both actors to do their own thing but still convincingly collaborate. The best parts of the film come in the third act when Charles and Gérard finally enter Tricatel's factory and discover how shockingly artificial the food created there is: it pokes fun at fast food chains in an amusingly absurd, Charlie Chaplin-esque kind of way. The movie has its cartoonish moments but also cares about its characters enough to not have the whole thing be simply a heartless farce.

This may not be the very best Louis De Funes film but seeing as the actor suffered two heart attacks prior to filming this one, it's a miracle it even exists and is as good as it is. This is an often very funny, clever and altogether pretty irresistible comedy that's well worth checking out.

Great fun.

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