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PARIS — France’s favorite Sephardic Rat Pack is back in garishly overstated fashion with Would I Lie to You? 3 (La Verite si je mens! 3), the latest sequel to director Thomas Gilou’s highly successful kosher comic franchise. Rehashing both cast and crew from earlier episodes, but to mostly diminishing returns, this kitschy, only occasionally funny installment has the gang of garment workers-cum-dealmakers trying to salvage their professional and personal livelihoods amid countless obstacles. Released on over 1,000 prints and raking in nearly 400K admissions on opening day, the film should score sizeable Gallic gelt, with offshore gigs limited to Francophonia.
Unapologetically bling-bling at a time when most Frenchies fear for both their jobs and their bank accounts, the scenario (by returning scribes Gerard Bitton and Michel Munz) seems more than a tad out of touch with current woes, though the filmmakers themselves shouldn’t have much to worry about: The first (and best) part of the trilogy scored 5M local admissions, the second installment nearly 8M, and Lie 3 may find itself somewhere in between – which is definitely not its case in terms of quality.
Despite a few genuinely hilarious zingers and set-pieces, most of the comedy here is of the over-the-top, extremely loud and incredibly childish variety (what the French refer to as l’humour pipi-caca), with the returning crew of money hungry man-boys high-fiving one another every time one of them cracks a joke. All too satisfied with their macho chutzpah, not to mention with the vast amounts of wealth they have accumulated since the previous episodes – and which, in this film’s only major plot point, they seem hell-bent on maintaining – the originally charming bunch of Sentier (Paris’ garment district) bad boys have grown considerably unlikeable with old age.
Following a lurid, James Bond-style credit sequence, we’re quickly introduced to the usual suspects of head honcho Eddie (Richard Anconina), witless middleman Serge (Jose Garcia), wisecracking sidekicks Yvan (Bruno Solo) and Dov (Vincent Elbaz), and their cigar-chomping, Bentley-driving cousin, Patrick (Gilbert Melki).
While all seems well in bargain clothing land, things soon fly off the rails when French customs officials attempt to shut down Eddie’s business, forcing him and the gang to head to China in order to cut a deal that may keep them afloat. Meanwhile, the normally solvent Patrick is subject to a nasty tax audit, which is further complicated by the fact that he’s fallen in love with his attractive auditor (Lea Drucker). Then there’s all the female trouble, with Eddie’s wife (Amira Casar) heading back to school, Serge’s wife (Elisa Tovati) hoping to get pregnant, and Dov’s wife (Aure Atika) now Yvan’s g.f., with whatever kvetching that entails.
If a few of the one-liners hit their mark early on, there’s way too much nonsense all around, especially during the Shanghai-set sequences, which offer up the types of clichés about the Chinese (yelling incomprehensible expressions, eating live worms) unseen perhaps since the days of Fu Manchu. Such moments are accompanied by plenty of candy-colored sets and costumes, overlit cinematography, and a boisterous score that plays nonstop throughout an overstuffed 2-hour running time.
Performances are typically flamboyant, with Garcia (Le Couperet) putting lots of sweat into the much-beloved Serge character. As for the talented Anconina (Police, Le Petit criminel), there’s only so far he can take Eddie this time around: Being the only Goy in the group, Eddie initially offered up an outsider’s view of the insular, Mafioso-type world of Parisian Sephardic Jews. Here he’s just one of the gang, enhancing a stereotype that the earlier films managed to both laugh at and criticize.
Opens: In France (February 1)
Production companies: La Verite Production, Vertigo Productions, Les Films Manuel Munz, Telegraphe
Cast: Richard Anconina, Jose Garcia, Bruno Solo, Vincent Elbaz, Gilber Melki, Aure Atika, Amira Casar, Lea Drucker, Elisa Tovati, Marc Andreoni
Director: Thomas Gilou
Screenwriters: Gerard Bitton, Michel Munz
Producers: Aissa Djabri, Farid Lahouassa, Manuel Munz
Executive producer: Denis Penot
Director of photography: Robert Alazraki
Production designer: Jacques Rouxel
Music: Herve Rakotofiringa
Costume designer: Catherine Bouchard
Editor: Catherine Renault
Sales Agent: Other Angle Pictures
No rating, 120 minutes
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