Smoking Causes Coughing
March 17th, 2023
MOVIE: SMOKING CAUSES COUGHING
STARRING: GILLES LELLOUCHE, VINCENT LACOSTE, ANAIS DEMOUSTIER, JEAN-PASCAL ZADI, ADÈLE EXARCHOPOULOS, JEROME NIEL
DIRECTED BY: QUENTIN DUPIEUX
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
The films and mind of Quentin Dupieux is not for everyone. What could never be said is that his work is unoriginal. At times, the French director might even be too unique, eccentric, or an acquired taste for even the biggest cinephile. His recent film– Smoking Causes Coughing– might be his wildest and his funniest yet. Think Power Rangers meets Airplane! Or a kaiju monster flick with anthology style narratives. That might be the closest I can get in describing it but I do know that viewers will be pleasantly surprised. Smoking Causes Coughing is one of the funniest movies of 2023 and a delightful parody that is desperately needed.
Standing in a field is a monster turtle and surrounding him is a group of five fighters in blue-white tights, and helmets. They are known as the “tobacco-forces”, a band of heroes– Benzene (Gilles Lellouche), Methanol (Vincent Lacoste), Nicotine (Anais Demoustier), Mercure (Jean-Pascal Zadi), and Ammoniaque (Oulaya Amamra)- fighting to defeat bad guys. They explode their foe in a bloody mess, splattering on a family standing at the side of the road with a son that just wants to meet his heroes. Soon after they receive a call from their boss- Chef Didier- a puppet that looks like Alf and Rizzo Rat, letting them know that he is sending the group to a team bonding mission. It’s time to get everyone together at the side of a lake and open up about everything.
For anyone who had seen Dupieux’s previous film Deerskin would know that no narrative is linear. One minute we think the focus is the fighting squad. Instead, they gather by a bonfire and tell stories. This is where things veer into an anthology of various stories, each one more wild and hilarious than the next. There’s a story about two couples visiting a vacation home (featuring Blue is the Warmest Color star Adele Exarchopoulos), with one guest finding a steel helmet that sends her on a killing rampage. Another story involves a worker at a chop shop finding himself stuck in a wood chipper without seeming to mind at all. Each one is more silly, obscure, or down right stranger than the next.
As for the humor, it’s all quite silly, where the gags and goofs will remind viewers of films like Top Secret or Hot Shots! The bits involve a malfunctioning robot, a refrigerator with a person on the inside, or Mercure constantly trying to start a story, only to be interrupted each time. Although the film’s ending feels a bit abrupt, it’s within that unpredictable humor, and narrative obscurity where Dupieux shows his brilliant mind. If there is a sense that comedy is less today, it’s important to see just how smart, and funny a writer can be with their material.
The back and forth between the anthology stories and the group create a nice balance. Smoking Causes Coughing is a hilarious and sharp poke at the state of cinema and superhero films. With the recent failures of Quantumania and Shazam!: Fury of the Gods, this is a perfect time for a comedy of this kind. And if we can’t appropriately laugh about the unseriousness of superheroes then we may as well just give up and go back to smoking cigarettes. Wait, don’t do that, just go see this movie.
SMOKING CAUSES COUGHING IS PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS AND VOD ON FRIDAY MARCH, 31ST 2023.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady