Think Danny de Vito’s War of the Roses meets John Hughes’ Planes, Trains and Automobiles and you will have some idea of the tone of Eyjafjallajokull directed by Alexandre Coffre and starring Danny Boon best-known for his role in the most successful French film ever Bienvenue chez le Ch’tis.Boon is a great crowd pleaser with French audiences and pitting him against Valérie Bonneton, a highly versatile comedy actress, should be a sure-fire recipe for success. Without doubt, no expense was spared to bring to the big screen this tale of a divorced couple travelling to their daughter’s wedding in Greece, who are forced to find alternative transport when the Icelandic volcano of the title disrupts air traffic across the globe. A wrecked Porsche and smashed light aircraft form part of the collateral damage. But the end result is an uneven, stop-go adventure that cracks a smile now and then but little more. Only the scene where the two main characters meet an ex-con turned God-squadder (a superbly funny Denis Menichon) offers a glimpse of a darker and potentially more satisfying brand of humour.
Boon is Alain, a driving instructor who raised his daughter alone after Valérie (Bonneton) quit the marriage soon after she was born. The two meet again on an Athens-bound plane just before Eyjafjallajokull erupts. Both are forced to make alternate travel plans which inevitably result in being thrown together in a desperate race to reach their destination before their daughter ties the knot. What follows is a series of mishaps, none of which is madcap enough to raise the humour from the mundanely obvious to a higher level.
Before the two main characters appear on screen together, their mutual hate has already been established. What is infinitely less clear is how they ever got together in the first place. Boon plays Alain as dopey, harmless, but essentially ‘a good egg’ while Bonneton’s Valérie is in overdrive as a vicious, cruel, screeching harpy who is devoid of any redeeming qualities whatsoever. No-one in their right mind would want to see these two get back together which runs against the grain with films of this kind. Boon has struggled for the past five years to reproduce the phenomenal success he enjoyed with the Ch’tis and it’s unlikely Eyjafjallajokull will put him back on the A list. In cinemas in France: 2/10/2013