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Porn in the Hood Still - H 2012
"Porn in the Hood"

Porn in the Hood (Les Kaira): Film Review

11:47 AM PDT 7/23/2012 by Jordan Mintzer

The Bottom Line

Outré banlieue comedy lacks the skills and the laughs.

Opens

July 11 (in France)

Director-Screenwriter

Franck Gastambide

Cast

Medi Sadoun, Franck Gastambide, Jib Pocthier, Ramzy, Alice Belaidi

Franck Gastambide's comedy follows adventures of three thugs trying to break into the adult film industry and make a quick Euro.

PARIS -- As boldly idiotic as its English-language title, the French banlieue comedy Porn in the Hood (Les Kaira) follows the lowly adventures of three down-on-their-luck thugs trying to break into the adult film industry and make a quick Euro. Adapting from his popular Canal + series, writer-director-star Franck Gastambide piles on the tasteless jokes—many of them involving untamed animals and/or women treated as such—but rarely offers up the self-deprecating ghetto parody one could hope for.

Gaumont’s mid-sized July 11th release scored a sizeable 400K admissions in its first frame and is well on its way to becoming a sleeper summer hit, at least locally. Overseas action will be limited to Francophone territories, while other distributors will require a decent urban dictionary and perhaps a large bag of weed to translate the film’s unbeatable slang, delivered in rapid-fire bursts by its trio of man-boy hoodlums.

Indeed, the original title, Les Kaira, is French verlan (slang) for racaille (thug), and part of what made Gastambide’s show Kaira Shopping—a faux HSN set in a Parisian housing project and anchored by the three numbskulls—so successful was its combination of DIY aesthetics, street attitudes and over-the-top salesmanship.

Here, the team has upped the ante with a decent budget (reported at €4 million), a handful of cameos and something that’s meant to resemble a plot, but what they wind up with is a tedious exercise in outré humor that lacks the spontaneity, not to mention the brevity (the TV sketches normally clock in at under 3 minutes), of their YouTube-style phenomenon.

A speedy opening introduces us to lifelong friends Abdelkrim (Medi Sadoun), Mousten (Gastambide) and Momo (Jib Pochtier), who spend their days lounging around the latter’s apartment while insulting one another with fits of hood lingo. Avid readers of porno mags, the three realize they can get rich quick by becoming pro studs themselves, and meet up with a sleazebag producer (Francois Damiens, in a fun bit role) who asks to see their demo reel by Monday morning.

Thus kicks off a long weekend of mayhem as the threesome tries to score any which way they can, although that story soon gives way to a more conventional tale of lost loves and local bullies. As for the jokes, Gastambide lays them on mighty thick with several over-the-top sequences (including one that combines taxidermy, cat allergies and female ejaculation), but everything is so in-your-face childish that he never quite hits a sustainable tone. When all else fails, Momo, a little person, becomes the go-to guy, and is literally thrown to the dogs in one scene that shows to what extent Porn in the Hood has run out of ideas by its midpoint.

Most disappointing is the film’s failure to tackle real questions about the notoriously nasty French suburbs, and although the characters are somewhat clever amalgams of banlieue types, their obsessions with porn and circus animals are closer to Jackass than to Dave Chappelle, turning the whole production into a high school-level prank.

Performances are exaggerated to the point that you can often see the actors—especially Sadoun—trying way too hard to seem funny. Tech credits are flashy, with certain gags staged in fisheye widescreen by cinematographer Antoine Marteau (Twisted Souls) and a hip-hoppy soundtrack by a team that includes DJ Cut Killer (La Haine).

Production companies: Save Ferris, Mandarin Cinema, Gaumont
Cast: Medi Sadoun, Franck Gastambide, Jib Pocthier, Ramzy, Alice Belaidi
Director, screenwriter: Franck Gastambide, based on the series
Kaira Shopping
Producers: Jean-Charles Felli, Christophe Tomas, Eric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer
Director of photography: Antoine Marteau
Production designer: Laurent Tesseyre
Costume designer: Sandra Berrebi
Editor: Veronique Parnet
Music: DJ Cut Killer, Herve Rakotofiringa, Eric Neveux
Sales: Gaumont
No rating, 96 minutes.