‘All Gone South’ (‘Babysitting 2’): Film Review

Babysitting 2 - H 2015
Courtesy of Universal Pictures International France
A lewd and lively sequel where laughs are hard to come by.

The cast and crew of the 2014 French comic hit 'Babysitting' are back for another round.

It's hard to tell whether the international title is meant to be taken literally or ironically, but All Gone South (Babysitting 2) rather accurately describes where the filmmaking heads in this costly but mostly unfunny follow-up to last year's surprise comic hit, which raked in over 2 million admissions at the French box office.

Whereas the original Babysitting was a fun if dumb melange of The Hangover and Paranormal Activity, using the found footage genre to track four Gallic dudes partying hearty and paying the price for it, this Brazil-set sequel comes up short in the laughs department while dishing out much more dough than its predecessor. Still, there are a few decent gags amid all the lewd, borderline offensive antics, which should allow the wide Universal France release to reach a sizeable audience at home, with overseas prospects limited to Francophone and European crowds.

Using the same cast, crew and narrative structure as last time, director-star Philippe Lacheau and co-director Nicolas Benamou take us from the suburbs of Paris to the jungles of Brazil, where best buds Franck (Lacheau), Sam (Tarek Boudali), Alex (Julien Arruti) and Ernest (Vincent Desagnat) find themselves prey to a laundry list of predictable comic pitfalls. Along the way, Franck must prove to his girlfriend and potential fiancée, Sonia (Alice David), that he's a real man and not a wussy, even if he has the body of someone who spends a good two hours a day at the gym.

That's pretty much what the plot hinges on, and when the four bozos disappear during an Amazon excursion, they leave Sonia and her resort owner dad (veteran Christian Clavier) to sift through tons of GoPro footage chronicling their exploits. Some of those scenes are funny in a Jackass sort of way, but the gags quickly jump the shark — or in this case, the jaguar — when the Frenchies are captured by an indigenous tribe whose antics would have Claude Levi-Strauss rolling in his grave.

Other jokes, when they're not involving an old granny (Valeriana Villeneuve) along for the ride, are often of the misogynistic or homophobic variety — the latter highlighted by a bit where Franck gets fellatio from an effeminate tribesman trying to suck spider venom out of his testicles. Could Franck actually like it? Mon dieu!

This is the level the Babysitting franchise operates on, and, given how well the first installment worked, the filmmakers are basically repeating the formula while upping the ante in terms of budget, locations and outrageousness. But they're also willing to go anywhere to land a laugh here, resorting to some terribly rendered CGI to depict such kneeslappers as a tarantula crawling up a guy's shorts and a sloth jumping out of an airplane. (There are several other sloth jokes as well. Apparently sloths are funny.)

All Gone South shies away from the kind of dialogue-heavy humor found in most Gallic comedies, but what it offers instead is hardly more promising, even if it gets a few points for the sheer energy it puts out. It's the kind of sequel that doubles down on the money and the mayhem, traveling halfway across the planet in order to give an exotic setting to a rather loathsome set of characters and circumstances. In that sense the film could perhaps be considered a ripoff of another globetrotting, bottom-of-the-barrel scraping movie: The Hangover 2. Or, as they call it in France, a "very bad trip."

Production companies: Axel Films, Madame Films, M6 Films, Cinefrance 1888
Cast: Philippe Lacheau, Tarek Boudali, Julien Arruti, Vincent Desagnat
Directors: Nicolas Benamou, Philippe Lacheau
Screenwriters: Julien Arruti, Pierre Lacheau, Nicolas Benamou, Philippe Lacheau
Producers: Christophe Cervoni, Marc Fiszman
Director of photography: Antoine Marteau
Production designer: Claudio Peixo Amaral
Costume designer: Aurore Pierre
Editor: Olivier Michaut-Alchourroun
Composers: Michael Tordjman, Maxime Desprez
Sales agent: TF1 International

In French
93 minutes