It’s surprising to learn Dominique Farrugia’s Bis is based on an original idea from two of France’s most prolific and successful writing/directing teams to date – Matthieu Delaporte and Alexandre de la Patellière. While Farrugia’s comedy can boast the likeable Franck Dubosc and equally pleasing Kad Merad in the lead roles, this story of two characters who travel back in time to rewrite their life story is echoed in numerous films including Back to the Future, 17 Again, Peggy Sue Got Married and Noemie Lvovsky’s Camille Redouble(Camille Rewinds). So zero points for originality. And there’s little more to recommend this tepid comedy which covers well-travelled ground without offering anything new. A faithful recreation of the fashions and music of the mid-80s cannot replace fresh ideas mounted on witty and comic dialogue.
Eric (Dubosc) and Patrice (Merad) are old school friends who are now in their forties. Patrice has a successful career, a loving wife Caro (Alexandre Lamy) who he started dating in high school and a young daughter Chloe (Emmeline Sannier). Eric is a divorced womaniser who is about to flee the country before he is caught by the taxman. One drunken evening, the two men start to reminisce about their school days and when the wine stops flowing they go down into the cellar to replenish their glasses only to have an accident which sends them back in time to 1986.
What laughs there are rest solely on the combined charm of Dubosc and Merad and a series of jokes based around the paucity of technology back in the 80s – no mobile phones, no cordless phones, no internet, etc. Dubosc and Merad riff off each other with the ease of seasoned comic actors and the action moves along at a snappy, if predictable, pace. But the scenario has the feel of a series of gags which Farrugia has loosely strung together to form a whole. And Bis feels rushed and incomplete.
Dubosc is a cheeky and at times irreverant comic actor with a definite penchant for taking his clothes off under the flimsiest of pretexts and Bis doesn’t exploit his talent fully although he does strip down to the buff in a couple of scenes. Merad is a more subtle performer, but he too is underused. Over the past couple of years, Delaporte and de la Patellières names have appeared on the credits of films such as Le Prénom (What’s in a name), Un Illustre Inconnu and Papa ou Maman. Bis is simply not in the same league and is unlikely to present any real competiton to the current number one French comedy film at the box-office, La Famille Belier.