Bye Bye Morons review – frantically misjudged French farce doesn’t travel well

Bafflement has to be the chief response to this laboured, weirdly misjudged comedy from French actor and film-maker Albert Dupontel, supposedly inspired by the anarchic spirit of Terry Gilliam, who has been credited for “participation exceptionelle” and gets a wacky cameo. It’s also dedicated to the memory of Terry Jones.

But in fact this is a frantically French romp in the commercial mainstream, about as far from Python as it’s possible to get. (The original French title, Adieu Les Cons!, put me in mind of Francis Veber’s similarly strained satire Le Dîner de Cons.) Virginie Efira – not a comedy natural – plays Suze, a woman dying of a bronchial disorder, of all hilarious things. Before she dies, she wants to find the child she was forced to give up as an unmarried teen mother. But while she is at the government office begging for help, that department’s IT technician, Monsieur Cuchas (Dupontel), depressed at being passed over for promotion, shouts the phrase in the title and makes a bizarrely botched attempt to kill himself in the neighbouring office, accidentally shooting the young man being so unhelpful to Suze.

So Cuchas goes on the run from the cops, and Suze pressures him into using his tech wizardry to track down her son, and they are also helped by a blind man who had been given a job in the government’s official archives as part of a disability-diversity quota (again: hilarious). This is Serge (Nicolas Marié), who is wearing old-fashioned blind-man dark glasses, like a Samuel Beckett character.

What year is this supposed to be? It really is a very peculiar and unfunny film which finally finds some sort of sentimental point in praising the lonely sensitivity of nerdy bespectacled guys everywhere who can’t quite pluck up the courage to speak to the women they love. Some French films, like wine, don’t travel. This one turns to vinegar.

• Bye Bye Morons is released on 23 July in cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema.