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  How Did You Get In? We Didn't See You Leave Say It In French, Jerry
Year: 1984
Director: Philippe Clair
Stars: Jerry Lewis, Philippe Clair, Marthe Villalonga, Jackie Sardou, Philippe Castelli, Connie Nielsen, Lamine Nahdi, Philippe Caroit, Jess Hahn, Henri Attal, Dominique Zardi
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Clovis Blaireau (Jerry Lewis) is a private detective in France, the son of an American G.I. who had a brief fling with his mother (Jackie Sardou) at the end of the Second World War. He grew up never knowing his dad, and still lives with his mother in his room below her aerobics studio, where currently a group of larger ladies are exercising and causing the whole place to shake alarmingly. His mother goes to tell him to get up, and she hopes that is not a woman in his bed, but it isn't, it's his dog, and after getting ready and eating his breakfast, Clovis heads to the office which also happens to be under the studio, where he has a new case to take...

If there's one cliché about Jerry Lewis that seems to be brought up all the time, it's that he is much admired by the French. Well, this was true, or at least it was at the time this film was made, one of two movies in France he starred in when his career in America was on the slide, as far as the big screen went at any rate. Although they did well enough in their home territory, they failed to reignite his career with the result that after these he showed up in efforts where he did not receive top billing for the most part, indeed lead roles were thin on the ground after this one. Those two French films were not distributed much outside of that country, offering them a degree of interest from his non-Gallic fans.

Yes, there are quite a few, as despite the popular attitude of supposed disdain towards his particular brand of broad comedy, Jerry still commands quite the following. Mind you, after seeing How Did You Get In? We Didn't See You Leave you might be wondering if he was all he was cracked up to be, as it does not show him at his best. The brains behind this was Philippe Clair, a comedian and filmmaker about as over the top as Jerry could be, but notably lacking the same amount of international adulation. He plays Prosper, the husband of Clovis's latest client Nadege (Marthe Villalonga), a failing businessman who she wants a divorce from because, she says, she suspects him of cheating.

Actually, it is Nadege who is doing the cheating, with a toyboy who wishes to marry her for the fortune he predicts that she will receive when the divorce occurs. This seems like your average lowbrow French farce, except that there happens to be Jerry Lewis plonked down in the middle of it, dubbed into French so we don't get to hear his familiar tones or even the way he would have mangled his foreign language dialogue - if you read his lips, it looks as if he was speaking English anyway. In true Lewis fashion, Clovis is something of a bumbler, more enthusiastic about his job than skilled at it, so he eventually resorts to taking Prosper out to a nightclub after pretending to be an old schoolfriend (and crashing into his car), all in the hope that he'll get a chance to snap a photo or two of Prosper in a compromising position.

This is all fair enough, not especially funny, but nothing too offensive. Halfway through, however, it's as if Clair lost confidence in his plot and so out of the blue it turns into a buddy comedy, with Clovis and Prosper the buddies. After gangsters stage attempts on the now-bankrupt businessman's life, the duo go on the run and stowaway on a plane to Tunisia, where they get involved with some more gangsters who are hoping to set up a fast food restaurant chain there. Then a bit of business about a war between rival couscous and spaghetti promoters erupts, with Clovis and Prosper caught in the middle. Not only does this part feature Lewis ogling topless women by a swimming pool for almost five minutes, apparently in a desperate attempt to sustain the audience's waning interest, but there's also a kung fu fight and a man-eating lion in a cellar to keep things lively. Needless to say, once Jerry is doing his "funny" Japanese man act this has already gone irretrievably downhill, a mess which is more captivating for what's wrong with it than what's right. Music by Alan Silvestri.

Aka: Par où t'es rentré? On t'a pas vu sortir
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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