Slap Her, She’s French (12A)
Any movie with a title like this deserves to do well at the box office if only for its utter disregard for the ethics of political correctness and its embracing of everything that is outrageously xenophobic.
It also bodes well for a new level of considered humour coming out of a Hollywood that, finally, appears to have grasped the concept of satire, irony and deeply felt humour.
Movie newcomer Jane McGregor is Starla Grady, an annoyingly ambitious and pushy High School teenager who wears a permanent smile, enjoys a perfect life and the top place in the pantheon of her school’s most popular pupils.
Yet Starla’s work is not up to par, and she risks losing her prized place as cheerleader team captain unless her French grades improve. She hits on the perfect solution: invite a French exchange student to her Texan town, make a show of being her Trans-Atlantic pal, and beef up her grades.
Yet what Starla cannot suspect is that Gallic geek Genevieve LePlouff (Piper Perabo) is far from being the shy innocent she first appears. When, little by little, she begins to take over Starla’s privileged life – first her place on the cheerleading team, rapidly followed by her boyfriend – Starla realises she has a fight on her hands…
Slap Her, She’s French takes a bite out of the established (and tired) US teen flick by busting conventions and not being afraid to be crude and outright rude. McGregor and Perabo (the latter from Coyote Ugly) enjoy a sparky, catty chemistry that lifts the movie from the merely ordinary onto a unique level of its own.
Part of the film’s strength lies in the fact that neither spoilt brat Starla nor mysterious bitch Genevieve are likeable, so seeing them being taken down a peg or two – by each other or by jealous, revenge-seeking observers – is a joy.
McGregor meanders through the movie wearing the fixed manic grin of the permanently bewildered – a spot-on impersonation of the worst Prom or beauty queen – while Perabo is sexy, manipulative and dripping with vitriol.
At its most simplistic Slap Her, She’s French is just an exercise in humility, yet it is sufficiently offbeat and wildly funny to break out of the restrictive shackles of the standard teen comedy.
And while it is aimed squarely at the type of teen audience that lapped up no-brain fare like American Pie and Dude, Where’s My Car? it nevertheless eclipses both in an instant.
A delightfully off-kilter, Euro-bashing comedy, and with a standout performance from Perabo.