Movie Review: Dude, Where’s My “Mandibles?”

What’s a stoner comedy without weed? If it’s “Mandibles,” the latest deadpan farce from the French director of “Rubber,” it’s still daft, stoned or stone-cold sober.

“Mandibles” is a shambolic, sometimes funny and always-silly amble through the South of France with a couple of dopes who’ve stumbled upon a gigantic house fly.

They didn’t plan it, although they make lots of “plans” about the big bug the more sentimental of the two, Jean-Gab (David Marsais) promptly names “Dominique.” Something to do with “drones,” maybe, a trained fly that can make them rich by maybe doing what they do, only better.

They’re low rent hustlers. Manu (Grégoire Ludig) is the muscle, a homeless mug and part-time thug given “a mission” by his sketchy pal Raimondo (Raphaël Quenard). Get a car, drive to the chateau of Michel-Michel, pick up a suitcase, put it in the trunk.

As Raimondo finds Manu homeless, sleeping on the beach, that presents several challenges. Got to get a car, first. He breaks Raimondo’s confidence by bringing his hapless filling station attendant pal Jean-Gab along.

But that old Mercedes Manu hot-wired? There’s a noise in the trunk. And it’s neither mechanical nor human.

Writer-director Quentin Dupieux finds a few chuckles in this quirky couple, dimwits who hook horns (with their fists) every time something pays off for them, shouting, “TORO.”

Their simple “mission” is going wrong before they take a look in the trunk (a hot-wired car has no keys, remember). Every DIY challenge they face they solve in the most half-assed manner imaginable.

They stop to “train” the fly, but they need somewhere to lay low. They decide on the camper trailer (“caravan” in Euro-speak) of an old guy Manu head-butts as he robs him. But caravans aren’t fireproof, or nincompoop-proof.

Right in the middle of another sight gag — towing the Mercedes with a unicorn bicycle — they’re stopped and befriended by a gaggle of bourgeois ladies, one of whom is sure Manu is somebody she knew from high school.

And that’s how we meet Agnes, a friend of the family who SHOUTS (in French, with English subtitles) her every rude thought and deranged accusation at them due to a brain injury. “WHERE DID YOU LEARN YOUR MANNERS?” Whatever else “Mandibles” manages, Agnes (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is one hilarious creation.

The picture doesn’t go much of anywhere, but aimless in Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer, La Croix Valmer and elsewhere along the Côte d’Azur​ counts for something, a pretty setting for a seriously deadpan (and slightly icky) comedy about two guys on the lam with a fly.

MPA Rating: unrated, some violence, profanity

Cast: Grégoire Ludig, David Marsais, Adèle Exarchopoulos, India Hair, Roméo Elvis, Raphaël Quenard

Credits: Scripted and directed by Quentin Dupieux. A Magnet release.

Running time: 1:17

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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