French Girl

If the recent hit Anyone But You revived interest in the romantic comedy, French Girl could kill it again. The movie gives us two main characters we know are destined to be together, then devises a series of idiotic, unbelievable obstacles to threaten their relationship. We aren’t fooled by this nonsense. From the start, it’s blatantly apparent where the story is headed, leaving viewers to sit there in boredom, waiting for it to reach a foregone conclusion.

Gordon (Zach Braff) and Sophie (Evelyne Brochu) are madly in love. He’s about to pop the question when famous chef Ruby Collins (Vanessa Hudgens) approaches Sophie with an offer to interview for a position at the upscale new restaurant she’s opening in Quebec City. It’s tempting, as it would put Sophie back in her hometown, where her family still resides. Gordon accompanies her on the trip, only to discover that Sophie and Ruby were past lovers – and Ruby may have intentions of rekindling the romance.

There’s a potentially captivating comedy to be made from this scenario, but French Girl isn’t it. The film has nothing worthwhile to say about male insecurity, bisexuality, or anything else for that matter. After setting up the premise, writer/directors James A. Woods and Nicolas Wright turn their story into a Meet the Parents rip-off where everything Gordon says and does in front of Sophie’s family is wrong and everything Ruby says and does earns their approval. On top of that are endless bits of lame slapstick, like Gordon repeatedly getting chased by a goose or dealing with his girlfriend’s senile grandmother. None of it is remotely funny.

An even worse sin is the insipid nature of the screenplay. Gordon and Sophie could easily work everything out if they just sat down and had a conversation. The movie refuses to let them have that conversation, using the forced wackiness to prevent any honest exchange of emotions until the very end. If you had a dollar for every cliché French Girl comes up with, you could finance your own film. That includes the requisite scene where Ruby plants an unwanted kiss on Sophie at the exact moment Gordon shows up unexpectedly.

The characters are dull across the board, from Sophie’s dad, who’s predictably suspicious of Gordon, to her brother, a kickboxing-obsessed doofus who improbably wants to be a cop. Worst of all is Ruby, a genuinely one-note figure whose narcissism and cruelty are so over-the-top that you can’t believe Sophie would entertain the idea of working for her. Because of her obnoxiousness, she’s never a valid threat to Gordon, leaving us with no doubt whatsoever about which partner Sophie will choose.

French Girl plods along for 110 extremely long minutes, becoming increasingly desperate as it winds toward its finale. At least the shots of Quebec City are pretty. That’s the only thing the film has going for it.

out of four

French Girl is rated R for language and some sexual references. The running time is 1 hour and 50 minutes.

© 2024 Mike McGranaghan