My Wife Maurice

(Ma Femme...S'Appelle Maurice)

My Wife Maurice is a true French farce, the likes of which haven't been seen over here for a while.  Themes of mistaken identity, snowballing fumbles, and the inevitable cross-dressing play necessary roles.  The central character is a bumbling idiot who somehow becomes an integral part of somebody else's life, so this immediately brings to mind The Dinner Game, which came out a few years ago.  Because the plot of My Wife Maurice seems to run thin near the end, it is an inferior film to The Dinner Game, but still highly amusing nonetheless.  Everything begins in Venice, where Georges (Philippe Chevallier, Antilles Sur Seine, Le Pari) is having an affair with Emmanuelle (Alice Evans, Hard Labour, 102 Dalmatians).  Emmanuelle learns that Georges has a wife, and he literally throws her out the window.

What Georges doesn't know is that Alice has a husband.  Johnny (Gotz Otto, Mask Under Masks, The Shanghai Spell) suspects that Emmanuelle is cheating.  He was spying on the two in Venice, and now returns to France for his revenge against Georges.  Emmanuelle wants to inform Georges' wife about his actions, which is making Georges really nervous.  His wife also is highly suspicious of his actions.  Thus, things are coming to a head.  To make his blood pressure go even higher, Georges is trying to sell his house, and some people are on their way to take a look.  Nearly every element is now in place, and the only thing left is for Maurice (Regis Laspales, Antilles Sur Seine, Le Pari) to arrive. 

Maurice is trying to get donations for a charity.  After a frantic phone call from Emmanuelle, who announces that she is on her way with a chainsaw, Georges persuades Maurice to dress up like a woman and pretend to be his wife, who left for her job.  This way, Emmanuelle can say all that she wants and hopefully feel better, and Georges will get away relatively scott free.  Maurice makes for a very ugly woman, but that is the whole point.  Against all odds, Georges and Maurice succeed in getting Emmanuelle to believe that he is a she, but after this point, nothing seems to go the way Georges planned.  Most of this is due to the fact that Maurice is unwilling to act like a normal person.  He throws himself into his role, doing what he wants to do, not what Georges wants to do.  This only escalates when Maurice begins confusing people, which is expected, since he doesn't know what anybody looks like.

Most of the action takes place in Georges' house, and this is due from the fact that My Wife Maurice was adapted by director Jean-Marie Poire (Just Visiting, The Corridors of Time) and playwright Raffy Shart (Quasimodo d'El Paris) from his own play.  Characters come and go quickly, and the level of mayhem rises quickly.  The only problem is that My Wife Maurice fails to sustain its level of manic comedy.  Things go from normal to weird really quickly, then fall back to normal.  It's like watching waves at the beach.  Things get really funny, then the momentum slows and things become dull for a while, only to get funny again.  This seesawing takes a lot away from the overall quality of the film, since it soon alternates between funny and mediocre.  This is especially apparent near the end, when My Wife Maurice seems to run out of things to say. 

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 42 minutes, French with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains some language, a PG-13 or possibly an R.

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