Sunday, April 1, 2007

Fun with Michel and Paulette

This is an entry for The White Elephant Film Blogathon over at Lucid Screening.

When you attend a White Elephant party and it's your time to get your gift, the expectations are pretty low. Maybe it's a plastic canister that actually smells of real farts when you open it. Or maybe it's an extremely well-used jockstrap. Who knows? What you don't expect is a practical gift. A nice golf shirt or water purifier for your faucet that withholds 99.3% of all particulates in your water supply.

Well that's what I got when Ben sent me my e-mail for the White Elephant Film Blogathon over at Lucid Screening. My movie was Forbidden Games. The French film I asked myself? The Criterion DVD? I asked myself again. Maybe it was a typo I thought. Maybe Ben meant Forbidden Planet? Or Forbidden Zone? Or better yet Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives? Then I thought that Ben, although he does not know me, hates me desperately. He must hate me to give me this selection. Where's my Air Bud? My Garbage Pail Kids? No, for the White Elephant Film Blogathon I get legitimate French cinema. Where's the fun in that? I submit a movie gem like Peter Jackson's Meet The Feebles and this is how I get repaid? This is outrageous.

But lucky for me Forbidden Games was surprisingly hilarious. Take for example the first few minutes of this World War II film, when the Germans swoop in and bomb this little village street in France killing several people. Or when little Paulette's (a five year old French girl) parents get gunned down by a plane flying over head leaving her an orphan. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure be damned, I've got legitimate French humor here. And rather advanced if I might say. I didn't know that they could grasp this kind of dark humor in 1952? But what do I know.

I thought that there was no way that the movie could maintain the level of comedy it had set in the first few minutes. Boy, was I wrong. Paulette is taken in by a farm family outside of Paris and it's there that she is befriended by an older farm boy named Michel. Those two together find Paulette's dog dead on the side of the road. I could hardly breath at this point I was laughing so hard. And here's the best part. Those two crazy kids decide to bury the dog and make a cemetery for all the dead animals and insects they find in the surrounding area. In order to do this, they have to steal crosses from graveyards and churches for their animal cemetery. Not since Top Secret had World War II seemed this hilarious.

The Criterion website describes Forbidden Games as "innocence corrupted" and "heartbreakingly real" but how about "gut-bustingly funny." Sorry Ben, contrary to what I had first imagined, Forbidden Games is among the funniest, if not the funniest, World War II movie I have ever seen. Thanks for giving it to me.

No comments: