'Alibi.com': Film Review
The team behind the French box-office hits 'Babysitting' and 'Babysitting 2' is back with a new high-concept comedy about a startup that helps people cover up their deceptions.
If your idea of a good time at the movies is watching a poodle being used as a bowling ball, then as an ashtray; a little boy hit by a golf cart; a scene where a man masturbates to a photo of Nathalie Baye; another scene where Nathalie Baye starts twerking; a gag involving refugees arriving on the shores of France; a woman who brags about her fake breasts and shouts the line, “I’m as excited as a whore!”; a swingers party where everyone is dressed up as Marvel superheroes and pops Quaaludes; and at least a half-dozen references to Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Bloodsport, including a re-creation of the final fight scene — then the new Gallic comedy Alibi.com is perhaps up your alley.
Even if it’s not, this latest concoction from director-star Philippe Lacheau and his band of merry pranksters has already scored nearly 2 million admissions in less than two weeks of local release, making this another home run for the crew behind the highly successful Babysitting franchise. Sexist, a bit racist and definitely ridiculous, this high-concept farce does land a few good jokes and is frenetically paced enough to make you forget some of the bad ones. Its bottom-of-the-barrel humor is a cut above your typical French effort, but clearly caters to the lowest, broadest base.
The pitch is simple: The snarky Gregory (Lacheau), along with acolytes Augustin (co-writer Julien Arruti) and Mehdi (Tarek Boudali), runs a startup that offers clients elaborate alibis when they want to get away with something. As this is France, most of the alibis are designed for men cheating on their partners, though one client uses the service in order to go to a Paris Saint-Germain soccer match instead of sitting at home with his nagging wife and parents-in-law. In either case, most of the alibis involve duping women in one way or the other.
As this is also a sort-of rom-com, Gregory winds up falling early on for the beautiful blond Flo (Elodie Fontan), only to find out that her dad, Gerard (Didier Bourdon), has hired his company to seduce Flo’s mother (Baye) so he can spend a weekend in Cannes with a new mistress. Gregory wants out, but he’s already lied to Flo about his real job and finds himself left with no choice but to go through with Gerard’s big scheme to get laid.
For anyone who has seen the similar, and much classier, Romain Duris comedy Heartbreaker, it’s obvious that Gregory will eventually get a taste of his own medicine and be forced to reverse his cynical worldview so he can get the girl and win the day. That’s pretty much what happens here, although this much more depraved version of that pitch features several testicle-based gags (testicles bitten by a cat and kicked by a zebra) and one direct reference to the sex life of current President Francois Hollande.
Nobody is spared by Lacheau and co., including the above-mentioned migrants plus a few African trinket salesmen, and it’s hard to tell if the filmmakers are mocking their own characters’ senselessness or indulging in it themselves. Not that Alibi.com lends itself to any sort of deep analysis, and the film is so fast and dirty — thanks in part to the freaky beats of composers Maxime Desprez and Michael Tordjman — that all you can do is switch off your moral compass and hop along for the ride. The effect is dizzying in the end, like chugging Red Bull while watching 90 minutes of YouTube gags, though the team deserves credit for maintaining such a manic comic rhythm from start to finish.
Production company: Fechner Films
Cast: Philippe Lacheau, Elodie Fontan, Julien Arruti, Tarek Boudali, Nathalie Baye, Didier Bourdon
Director: Philippe Lacheau
Screenwriters: Philippe Lacheau, Julien Arruti, Pierre Dudan
Producer: Alexandra Fechner
Executive producer: Franck Milcent
Director of photography: Dominique Colin
Production designer: Samuel Teisseire
Costume designer: Eve-Marie Arnault
Editor: Olivier Michaut-Alchourroun
Composers: Maxime Desprez, Michael Tordjman
Casting director: Meriem Amari
Sales: TF1 International