Who's Afraid of the Long, Bad Wolf?

One of the good things about movies is, well, no reading. Therefore, I expect subtitled films that have made it to American theaters to be worth the effort. There should be a message, something intellectual to take away, something that will make unconventionally attractive women want to talk to me. In these terms, a viewing of the French Brotherhood of the Wolf can be compared only to setting the television on closed caption and reading two hours of MTV's Total Request Live. As synthetic as anything Carson Daly dishes out, Brotherhood serves up costume drama, romance, action, horror and martial arts glued together with enough camera tricks to hold the attention span of any 14-year-old--it's surprising the Frenchies didn't throw some Daft Punk onto the soundtrack.

The over-the-top style leaves the audience wondering if they are laughing with or at the filmmakers. The opening minutes show an attack by the film's beast that comes so close to a similar scene in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective that only seeing Jim Carrey himself dressed as a French maid could have been funnier. Speaking of French maids, if there is any order in this world, then a woman, standing alone in the woods and holding a white lamb, will be eaten by a wolf. I hope this much is true. Oh, and extra points for using Monica Belluci's breasts as a morphing segue into rolling hills.

The plot's holes are so big that occasionally characters will actually fall into them for, say, 30 minutes. Most blatant is the ethnic half of the aforementioned brotherhood, a Native American (Mark Dacascos) who returns to the screen sporadically to throttle small villages of Frenchmen all by himself, wearing less and less clothing each time.

In the end, predictably, the hunky nobleman (Samuel Le Bihan), the Native American and the young narrator decide to take on the wolf-beast once and for all. The young narrator learns a valuable and predictable lesson, the minority buddy becomes predictable martyr fodder for the white man and the hero is predictably conspired against, murdered, buried and brought back to life by his Italian witch-prostitute. And all at forty minutes too long! So much for French cultural snootiness--a strong diagnosis that the bad action film is not a disease unique to Americans.


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