With a Friend Like Harry

Bomb Rating: 

Since the day I saw the feel-good coming-of-age film "Chuck and Buck," I've been wary of unrecognized "friends" from grade school who pop up out of nowhere and suddenly want to be my buddy. Of course, our grade-school games didn't typically involve musical acts of sodomy, so the whole "Chuck and Buck" scenario isn't likely to occur with me unless I had a serious blackout back when I was a youngster. Regardless, any guy coming out of the woodwork and claiming to know me from grade school and wanting to be friends is going to be met with suspicion.

Michel (Laurent Lucas) is in a public bathroom when Harry (Sergi Lopez) turns from a post-leak hand-washing and starts staring at him. Harry insists they knew each other, but Michel just doesn't remember. Michel doesn't notice that Harry stares at him just a little too long and that Harry doesn't rinse his hands before shaking. I think the potential for getting a splattering of somebody's weenie stank on my hands would be the dead giveaway -- a true friend would dry his hands.

The kicker is that when Harry and his girlfriend Plum (Sophie Guillemin) sit down to dinner with Michel and his wife Claire (Mathilde Seigner), Harry starts reciting Michel's old poetry and talking about a great story Michel wrote called "The Flying Monkeys." Clearly, both suck. Harry is obviously deranged, but Michel chooses not to recognize it because this sudden sycophantic behavior is everything he's not getting from his family. The irony here is that while Harry persistently attempts to right Michel's life by systematically eliminating his problems, the real reason Michel's life is screwed up is that he so desperately craves approval that he can't see the forest through the trees.

Ironically, while the film ends with Michel's conclusion that his life is pretty good, the rest of us can only conclude that his life actually stinks. With a nagging wife, three screaming kids, and no prospect for ever being free from burden again, it's no wonder that Michel can't function without superficial approval. This doesn't just go away because Harry goes away; in fact, Harry doesn't turn out to be much of a villain. Michel is a momma's boy of the highest caliber and at 34 years old, he has yet to develop an iota of self esteem. The only people who will enjoy sitting through this film are likely those who share that very problem.

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