Fumer fait tousser [Smoking Causes Coughing] (2022)

Fumer fait tousser
Director: Quentin Dupieux
Writer: Quentin Dupieux
Cast: Gilles Lellouche, Vincent Lacoste, Anaïs Demoustier, Jean-Pascal Zadi, Oulaya Amamra, Tanguy Mercier, David Marsais, Julia Faure, Olivier Afonso, Alain Chabat, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Benoît Poelvoorde, Grégoire Ludig, Doria Tillier, Jérôme Niel, Blanche Gardin
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 31.10.2022

The Tobacco Force – Benzène (Gilles Lellouche), Méthanol (Vincent Lacoste), Nicotine (Anaïs Demoustier), Mercure (Jean-Pascal Zadi) and Ammoniaque (Oulaya Amamra) – are a group of superheros. After yet another successful mission against a turtle-like monster, their boss, Chef Didier (Alain Chabat) has some criticism for them, though. Their group cohesion is not looking good and they need a break to work on their team spirit. So Chef Didier sends them to a camping retreat where they can do just that – before they have to go out to face the supervillain Lezardin (Benoît Poelvoorde).

Fumer fait tousser comes with all the weirdness one has grown accustomed to from Dupieux, and yet it is probably also one of his most straightforward films to date. I had fun with it, but it’s not my favorite so far.

The film poster showing the Tobacco Force with oversized heads.

Fumer fait tousser is, of course, an hommage and parody to the Power Rangers and the kind of shows the Power Rangers came from. I know very little of the genre, never having watched a lot of them. But I am familar enough with it to enjoy the loving ridicule Dupieux pulls off with the film. The fight in the beginning is absolutely hilarious, and the idea of the Tobacco Force itself – killing their foes with the poisons in cigarettes – led by a giant rat, Didier, is great.

But the film quickly leaves this part behind and when our heroes end up at the retreat, we as much as they have to figure out what to do at a retreat like this. They end up telling scary stories around the campfire that are served to us in an anthology form that shakes things up a little and have some nice cameos as well. It does fray the overall narrative a little though, and makes the film feel less coherent than is probably good for it.

The Tobacco Force in full uniform with their robot Norbert 500.

While the film has some really great ideas (the lady in the refrigerator – in a very different sense than I usually use it – stole my heart in particular), I think what I loved most about it is the production design – the costumes, the set, the robot: everything just screams retrofuturistic chique that will appeal in particular to people who remember these kind of sets from their own childhoods.

It’s easy to have fun with Fumer, even if it is not one of Dupieux’s best (I suspect that the other film he made that was running at the Viennale is the better of the two, but I didn’t manage to catch Incroyable mais vrai). If you like his brand of humor overall, it should not be missed.

Benzène (Gilles Lellouche) holding up a large fish.

Summarizing: entertaining enough.

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