Radiostars: Film Review
Director Romain Lévy's deeply French comedy about talk radio gets by on high energy.
Radiostars is a film that wears its references on its sleeve. Director Romain Lévy admits the film's ancestry includes Good Morning, Vietnam, Pump Up the Volume, Talk Radio and Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous, while genes from Pirate Radio are in the mix along with a protagonist who is a dead ringer for Funny People's Seth Rogen. Throw in the wide open spaces of a road-movie format, and it's clear the filmmakers are aiming for a crowd-pleaser pitched at the under-25s. Chances are they'll hit the target in their home market but the Gallo-centric humour may have difficulty translating into box-office overseas.
Having failed to make it as a stand-up comedian in New York, Ben (Douglas Attal) returns to Paris in time to sign up as a sketch-writer for a team of talk-show hosts on Blast.fm radio comprising the alpha-male Arnold (Clovis Cornillac), his side-kick Alex (real-life radio star Manu Payet) and the veteran Cyril (Pascal Demolon). With ratings on the slide, station chief Frédérico (Laurent Bateau) sends them on a coach tour of the provinces with orders to meet the people and restore the station's fortunes.
Scenic locations and colorful encounters ensue in an episodic storyline held together mainly by Arnold's rivalry with the up-and-coming Alex. Ben shines as a writer but dries up in front of the mike, and his attentions are increasingly directed towards Manu's sister Jennifer (Zita Hanrot).
This being a movie about talk radio, there is naturally plenty of talk and the banter comes thick and fast. The humour however is largely unsubtle. To put it generously, much of it, particularly that involving Arnold, in the expostulatory mode favored by Louis de Funes, the legendary comic actor of the 1960s who seemed to live in a permanent state of apoplexy.
Ben's story is not particularly involving and Alex's rise to prominence is the stock showbiz cliché, but there are quieter and more interesting moments, notably an out-of-character song played on acoustic guitar by rap star Jacky Ido and some deadpan comedy involving a unisex coach driver which shows what might have been achieved with sharper characterisation.
The movie's high energy levels and relentlessly upbeat mood will likely succeed in attracting its target audience, but otherwise this is one of those movies which looks like more fun for those taking part than for those watching.
Production company: Les Productions du Trésor
Cast: Manu Payet, Clovis Cornillac, Douglas Attal, Pascal Demolon, Zita Hanrot, Come Levin, Benjamin Laverhne, Sam Karmann, Jacky Ido, Laurent Bateau
Director: Romain Lévy
Writers: Romain Lévy, Mathieu Ouillon
Producer: Alain Attal
Production design: Nicolas de Boiscuillé
Photography: Laurent Tangy
Editor: Stéphane Couturier
Sales: Other Angle Pictures
No MPAA rating
Running time: 100 minutes