La Totale! (1991)

Comedy / Thriller


La Totale! photo
To his family, François Voisin is nothing more than a humdrum civil servant. In truth, for the past twenty years he has been working as a crack secret agent. All goes well until François discovers that his son has been skipping school. Using all the resources at his disposal, the irate father tracks his son to find out where he goes when he is not in school. Then François learns that his wife Hélène is having an affair with another man. With the aid of the latest hi-tech surveillance equipment, the jealous husband finds that his rival is a second-hand car salesman masquerading as an international terrorist. To win back Hélène, François contrives an elaborate scheme in which she is coerced into playing the role of a secret agent herself. The scheme backfires badly, and François and Hélène end up in the hands of a ruthless terrorist group…
© 2012

Film Review

Film poster
Thierry Lhermitte and Miou-Miou top the bill in this well-intended but somewhat over-the-top thriller parody from director Claude Zidi. Although there are a few very funny comic sequences, and the basic premise of the film is an appealing one, Zidi doesn't quite manage to pull this one off. (Lhermitte's previous collaboration with Zidi, Les Ripoux (1984) is a much better film.)  The pace of the film is uneven, some of the dialogue is painfully trite, and the parody sequences are too “obvious” to be really effective. That said, there are a few plus points. Michel Boujenah is terrific as the mysterious Simon (is he Arthur Daley's apprentice or Osama Bin Laden's second lieutenant?), the episode with the bugged handbag is hilarious, and the scene near the end where Miou-Miou is accidentally transformed in "Mrs Terminator" has to be seen to be believed. Not the most sophisticated or well-oiled of comedy thrillers, but La Totale! just about passes for entertainment.

As often happens with popular French comedies, an American re-make of the film hit the screens a few years later. Directed by James Cameron and starring none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger, True Lies (1994) proved to be an international hit, and a rare exception of an American re-make being better than the original French film that inspired it.
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The director Claude Zidi also worked with the actor Thierry Lhermitte on the films Les Ripoux (1984), Les Rois du gag (1985), Ripoux contre ripoux (1990) and Ripoux 3 (2003).

Film Credits

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