Monday, March 16, 2009

The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob

Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob; Comedy, France, 1973; D: Gérard Oury, S: Louis de Funès, Claude Giraud, Suzy Delair, Marcel Dalio, Miou-Miou, Henri Guybet

On his way to his daughter, who is about to get married, the stubborn rich businessman Victor Pivert gets stuck when his car falls in a lake. He is a racist and thinks all nations and religions are inferior compared to the French, which is why he fires his driver, Jew Salomon, when he refuses to help because Shabbat just began. On his way to get help, Victor gets stuck in a bubblegum factory and accidentally finds himself co-operating with Arab revolutionist leader Slimane who is hunted by killers from his country who want to eliminate him. Victor and Slimane disguise themselves as Rabbis and get mistaken for Rabbi Jacob and his nephew by the Schmoll family. In the end, the revolution succeeds and Slimane becomes the prime minister of his country.

A hilarious comedy, "The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob" is one of the most commercial and popular movies of comedian Louis De Funes in the 70s. The critics said: "The screenplay is excellent and halfway", since it's great in the first half but in the second half it loses all it's jokes, leaving only the grimaces of the hero. Still, it was very clever that director and co-writer Gerard Oury gave him unobtrusive psychological depth by presenting him at first as a hilariously exaggerated racist-bigot, only to have him disguised as a Rabbi and join a Jewish community which gave a neat message about understanding between nations at the finale of this dynamic story, which compensates for some heavy handed approaches and the already mentioned empty second half. The whole story was presented wonderfully simple while Louis De Funes has a field day, which is why those viewers who want to get a really good laugh, should obligatory watch the first half of the film: the hero Victor gives statements such like these: "I'm a real Catholic, just like God himself!", falls in a gluey bubblegum mass and gets out all cowered by it so bubblegum balloons pop out on his head while especially amusing were the scenes with his car that can be "converted" to a ship thanks to a yacht attached to it's roof. "Rabbi Jacob" was nominated for a Golden Globe as best foreign language film.


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