Job by Canal Cinema September 8, 2022
For his fifth feature film as a director, Philippe Lacheau made one of his childhood dreams come true by donning the costume of a superhero in front of the camera. With SUPER-HEROES DESPITE HIM (2022), La Bande à Fifi has fun parodying one of the most codified genres of American cinema, and it sparks, both literally and figuratively.
Badman, the first French superhero
Cédric (Philippe Lacheau) is a young actor like so many. He goes to castings and has trouble getting roles. Fortunately, he receives a helping hand from fate: the actor chosen to play “Badman”, the first French superhero, has a small accident when he learns the good news… And that’s how Cédric ends up recovering the role he no longer dared to dream. But karma gets involved and he in turn is the victim of a stroke of fate by crashing the car in the film. A crash with serious consequences, since he loses his memory and begins to believe that he is a real superhero, because he wakes up in Badman’s costume…
This is the beginning for him of a mission for which he is absolutely unprepared, but where he can count on the help of the members of Fifi’s Band, who also become improvised superheroes in homage to the Avengers: Gamora for Elodie Fontan, Captain America for Tarek Boudali and Iron Man for Julien Arruti. SUPER-HEROES DESPITE HIM is indeed full of nods to the Marvel and DC Comics universes and feature films, parodied throughout the film to the delight of fans fed on these blockbusters for fifteen years.
Philippe Lacheau and his acolytes take malicious pleasure in reproducing in their own way the attitudes and postures emblematic of superheroes, but also certain scenes that have become legendary, such as the famous “upside-down kiss”. from Sam Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN (2002)characters running in slow motion in the final battle of AVENGERS: ENDGAME (Anthony and Joe Russo, 2019) – with the camera shots and epic music that go with it – or even the dance performed by Joaquin Phoenix on New York stairs for JOKER (Todd Philips, 2019).
Built at a frantic pace (the film lasts less than 90 minutes), SUPER-HERO DESPITE LUI strings together visual gags and improbable stunts with a pronounced taste for burlesque humor and voluntarily stupid and below-the-belt jokes , which fans of La Bande à Fifi know well.
A comedy with multiple influences
But since his directorial debut with the hit comedy BABYSITTING (2014), Philippe Lacheau has evolved all the same. In 2018, he notably embarked on a pop turn that foreshadowed SUPER-HEROES DESPITE HIM, with NICKY LARSON AND THE PERFUME OF CUPID, adaptation of the anime NICKY LARSON by Kenji Kodama (1987) and the manga CITY HUNTER by Tsukasa Hōjō (1985).
A great admirer of the Farrelly brothers’ first cult comedies like DUMB AND DUMBER (1994) and MARY À TOUT PRIX (1998), Philippe Lacheau is also openly inspired by this American humor which does not hesitate to go much further than what usually found in French comedies. But the director of SUPER-HEROES DESPITE HIM also confesses to a more serious influence, that of the saga of spy films JASON BOURNE (2002-2016), of which he planned to parody the amnesiac character (Matt Damon), before opting for the lighter tone of a superhero movie.
And speaking of which, you won’t be surprised to learn that when it comes to superhero blockbusters, Philippe Lacheau has a weakness for the humor of James Gunn in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014) and for the version of the knight black and gotham imagined by Christopher Nolan in THE DARK KNIGHT trilogy (2005-2012).
This probably partly explains the choice to parody Batman for the main role of SUPER-HEROES DESPITE HIM, but we are delighted to see that French cinema is slowly starting to dare films of this genre, finally rid of his complexes vis-à-vis the disproportionate means of American blockbusters.
The year 2021 also saw the release in France of HOW I BECAME A SUPER-HERO (Douglas Attal), a rather successful serious attempt with Pio Marmai, Benoit Poelvoorde and Leila Bekhti, which would have deserved to be released in theaters as it was originally planned, and not on Netflix. Fortunately, given the box office success of SUPER-HEROES DESPITE HIM (nearly two million admissions), Philippe Lacheau’s next film is not likely to suffer the same fate.