Pain in the Ass

Pain in the Ass (L'emmerdeur)
Made in: France
Language: French
Director: Francis Veber
Starring: Richard Berry, Patrick Timsit, Virginie Ledoyen, Pascal Elbé, Michel Aumont, Laurent Paolini
Year: 2008

Synopsis: François Pignon (Patrick Timsit) is a heartbroken loser whose wife (Virginie Ledoyen) has left him for Edgar (Pascal Elbé), a comically unethical psychiatrist.

François has checked into a hotel room that's directly adjacent to Ralf (Richard Berry), a hitman. From his window, which is across the street from a courthouse, Ralf is to assassinate mobster Randoni (Michel Aumont). Randoni is to be escorted to the courthouse under heavy guard, and is expected to testify against other crime organizations.

By chance, François and Ralf meet after François fails to commit suicide. Ralf, disguising his identity, struggles to keep his mission secret as his bumbling neighbor keeps screwing things up. Eventually, more characters appear to complicate matters as Randoni's armed entourage approaches.

The Good: Pain in the Ass has a decent premise. Francis Veber again sets up a film that's more reminiscent of a play, and his characters are distinct, colorful, and played by good actors. There are a few funny moments here and there, but...

The Bad: ... the movie just drags and drags. Although just under ninety minutes, Pain in the Ass just feels too long. Some of the jokes and gags are somewhat amusing, but never reach an entertaining, laugh-out-loud level.

The film's biggest problem is the lack of any likeable characters. François is just too pathetic and Ralf is a cold-blooded hitman. In the end, there isn't anyone to root for, and I found myself not caring if Ralf carried out his mission. And by the end I was hoping he'd kill François instead.

The love triangle aspect seemed to have some potential at first, but didn't quite develop into anything.

Pain in the Ass might have started out as a interesting idea, but the way it plays out on film makes it seem as though director Francis Veber didn't take enough time to properly work out the premise.

And as a result, the characters are cinematically boxed into a corner where they aren't left with much to do. The only way out is by throwing in more and more far-fetched scenarios, which is a clear sign that the movie's in big trouble.

For better comedies by Francis Veber, check out The Closet (Le Placard) and The Dinner Game (Le Dîner de Cons).

(2 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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