Lucky Luke (2009)
Director: James Huth
Cast: Jean Dujardin, Michaël Youn, Sylvie Testud
Synopsis: Fearless gunslinger, Lucky Luke, is ordered by the President to bring peace to Daisy Town.
They’re a strange lot, the French. They eat frogs and horses, and they like Jerry Lewis and Johnny Halliday, and have a fondness for the cartoon characters of Rene Goscinny. He’s the monsieur who invented Asterix and his large-bottomed friend Obelix, but he also created a character who’s just as beloved in his homeland whilst remaining almost unknown overseas. That character is Lucky Luke, a cowboy who cleans up the West without taking lives. Luke appeared in a couple of feature-length cartoons in the 1970s and was played by Terence Hill in a 1991 movie, but overall he receives only a fraction of the attention enjoyed by Asterix.
He’s played here by Jean Dujardin (The Artist, The Wolf of Wall Street), who has dispensed with Luke’s omnipresent roll-up but retains the improbable quiff poking out from beneath the brow of his oversized hat. His foes are normally the Dalton brothers, but director James Huth, who co-wrote with Sonja Shillito and Dujardin, clearly felt the Daltons weren’t a big enough draw so recruited the likes of Jesse James (Melvil Poupaud – 44 Inch Chest) who is here a thwarted thespian given to quoting Shakespeare at the drop of a hat, a tomboyish Calamity Jane (Sylvie Testud) who harbours an unrequited love for Luke, and Billy the Kid (Michael Youn), an overgrown kid with a homicidal streak and a lollipop obsession.
The story is a half-hearted affair centred on the attempts of hissable villain Pat Poker (Daniel Prevost) to fool Luke into believing he’s actually killed him in the expectation that he will subsequently go to pieces. But it’s really about the visuals, which is as it should be as Luke is based upon a comic strip, and Huth demonstrates a visual inventiveness and flair which is highly stylised and always fascinating to look at. It does take a while to get used to cowboys speaking French, though…
(Reviewed 31st October 2014)