There's laughs in this glossy French comedy, but it’s too broad and unfocused.
A scattershot mess by any normal benchmark, this perky, glossy French comedy still stands head and shoulders above its US counterpart: the Adam Sandler vehicle. That’s not to say it’s actually any good, more that it manages to amply run off the combined electricity generated by its two charming leads, French stand-up comedians Florence Foresti and Jamel Debbouze.
Foresti’s performance is particularly noteworthy, its blend of ferocious physicality and gooey sentimentality harking back to the screwball comediennes of the 1930s while also allying her to a current crop of spiky female comics like Kristen Wiig and Sarah Silverman.
She plays Jeanne, an extrovert and mildly narcissistic voiceover artist for smash US soap opera, 'LA Couples'. Jennifer Marshall (Nikki Deloach) is the air-headed star of the show, and the actress for whom Jeanne supplies a Francophone translation. Jeanne’s life descends into chaos when she hears that Marshall has quit the show for health reasons, and so decides to venture to La La Land in an attempt to cajole her back in to the role.
The remainder of the film is a no-frills exercise in fish-out-of-water pratfalls, as Jeanne’s bumbling manner gets her into all sorts of awkward scrapes: shunting her oversized yellow Humvee into a car being driven by gangsters; wheedling her way into a charity auction and pretending to be a cocktail waitress; and, finally, getting drunk while sitting on the Hollywood sign and causing the accident which gives the film it’s title. ("It sounds better that way," she justifies to the police. "Holly–Woo!")
Yet, Foresti’s performance can only paste over so many cracks, and the disjointed structure, blunt satirical barbs and underwritten side characters leave Hollywoo as far from a model of coherence. Debbouze, as disheveled French expat Farres, runs in and out of the film attempting to get the $5,000 that's owed to him, with his and Jeanne’s plots (and hearts) dovetailing on the final stretch.
Again, Debbouze himself is very funny, especially when he’s given room to spout his tongue-twisting pidgin English. Yet, you could probably remove him from the film and it would make no difference whatsoever.
A gaudy French comedy – but will the funnies translate?
There are certainly a few laughs, but it’s too broad and unfocused to really hit home.
You’d want to spend some more time with Foresti and Debbouze, just not in this movie.