A Day at the Museum -- Film Review

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"A Day at the Museum" misses just about every target at which it takes satirical aim. Ostensibly a send-up of the art-museum scene with all its pretensions, this chaotic film instead pokes fun at school kids, provincial visitors, hair-triggered docents and an overwrought museum curator.

Writer-director Jean-Michel Ribes bases his free-form film on his successful play, so either something got lost in the transition to film or in the translation into English subtitles -- or perhaps it's just that comedy, like art, is a matter of taste.

In any event, the film, which screens here at the Col-Coa French film series, seems too much an inside joke to enjoy success in foreign climes. The film is populated with actors well known to French audiences as well as cameos by French filmmakers, Ribes himself and even former Canal Plus CEO Pierre Lescure.

A museum jammed with school kids and tourists plays host to a new photography exhibition -- of male genitalia -- on a particular stormy day. In the museum, havoc reigns as a mother and grown son are acting out an Oedipal conflict, another man can't find his car to the frustration of his entire family, a woman can't find paintings by Kandinsky, a curator is suffering an emotional meltdown and museum guides are ready to blow their stacks.

Outside, nature is laying siege to the museum as a storm gathers. All kinds of animal life invade the inner sanctums, while a flood -- from where? one wonders -- threatens. Obviously, the whole thing is a bit, to use an art term, surreal.

The acting is deliberately exaggerated. Most of the skits demand repetition, so even if you like a particular gag, you'll grown increasingly less fond of it the third or fourth time.

The comedy is pitched at too frantic a level right from the opening. Consequently, the film has nowhere to go. It just keeps getting more frantic. What it doesn't get is funnier.

Screens: Saturday, April 25, City of Lights, City of Angels Film Festival (Warner Bros.)
Production: Epithete Films, Mon Voisin Prods., France 3 Cinema
No rating, 96 minutes