What’s the Return Policy on My Wife? (Film Review: “I Do: How to Get Married & Stay Single”)

I Do: How To Get Married & Stay Single (Prete-moi ta main) is yet another in a long line of delightful French comedies that I simply cannot resist, and no matter my mood, they simply charm their way into my heart.  It stars the incomparable, enigmatic and fabulous Charlotte Gainsbourg – a personal fave – and the appealing Alain Chabat (whose idea the film was and who co-wrote the script) in a spoof of family values and bourgeois attitudes about marriage. Directed by Eric Lartigau, I Do is available streaming on both Netflix and Amazon Instant Video (for Amazon Prime members).  Oh, and if you can just get past Pipou’s ridiculous wig in an early, 80s flashback scene as well as the unfortunate spoof of an S&M bondage scene later in the film, I promise you lots of laughs and hilarious hi-jinks.

 

 SnapShot Plot

Luis Costa is on top of the world.  He’s 43, happily single, working as a respected professional ‘nose’ for the perfume industry, and has no desire to change one iota of his self-contained life.  Problem is, his life isn’t self-contained at all.  Luis – or Pipou as he’s called by his matriarchal family – is the only male holdout in a brood of females led by a dominating mother, 5 intrusive sisters and 12 bossy little nieces; they all think they know best when it comes to Pipou.  Before suddenly passing away years before, the father instituted an iron-clad rule of law within the family by which elaborate summit meetings were held at the dining room table to democratically vote on every mundane aspect of life – it was titled the G7, and out of respect for dear old Papa, it reigns supreme to this day.  Problem is, the Costa women have decided it’s time for them to select – and of course vote on – a bride for Pipou.  After a series of excruciating and funny first dates, Pipou decides to take his life back into his own hands and devises a clever scheme to fool the family into thinking he’s found the perfect woman to marry.  Enter Charlotte Gainsbourg as Emma, the enterprising, larcenous, no nonsense little sister of Pipou’s colleague from the perfumery.  Have you ever made your own vinaigrette?  It’s basically a vigorous blend of oil and vinegar, two ingredients which don’t initially mix well but surrender to a good beating.  That’s the basic metaphor of the courtship between Emma and Pipou.

 

Parting Shot

When Prete-moi ta main was released in France in late 2006, it went straight to #1 at the box office and remained a hit; in fact it was the 2nd most successful French film in 2007…for a reason.  Yes, it’s funny and sarcastic and even slapstick at times, and it certainly follows a familiar Rom-Com formula (boy meets girl – boy and girl hate each other – boy and girl try not to fall in love  – boy loses girl – boy wins girl back) but the the charm of movies like these is the willingness of the characters and the actors who play them to not take themselves too seriously, or when they do, it’s clear that they deserve a small dose of affectionate ridicule from the audience.  There’s an element of silliness to their suffering, which endears them to us even more.  And you know I’m all about the Silly!

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Featured Image Courtesy of: http://www.incine.fr/quizz/le-cinema-de-chabat

You Tube Trailer Courtesy of: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbnWGsn8yVg

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