One of the most entertaining films playing at this year's Seattle International Film Festival is the French comedy, OSS-117, a spy spoof set in the 1950s. Starring Jean Dujardin (who, during the filming of OSS-117, suddenly became a Very Big Star in France for his work on a previous film) and Bérénice Bejo, the movie takes us into the world of French super-spy Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath (aka Agent OSS-117). Hubert is of the bumbling variety of spy, who, in the tradition of Maxwell Smart, Inspector Gadget, and Austin Powers, somehow succeeds in spite of his ineptitude. 

When Jack Jefferson, an undercover French agent, is killed, OSS-117 is sent on a mission to Egypt to ferret out what happened. He promptly fumbles his way through social interactions with various representatives of the Muslim culture, blithely insulting while intending to confer favor, and nearly starting a rebel uprising by taking out the holy man calling devout Muslims to prayer, because it's interrupting his sleep.

Along for the ride (and frequently insulted as well) with OSS-117 are the deceased agent's secretary Larmina (charmingly portrayed by Bejo), Princess Al Tarouk, the daughter of an ousted royal, who keeps finding herself in Hubert's bed even as she tries to attack him, and Slimane, the loyal manager of the poultry company that served as the front for Jefferson's undercover work. Who took Jefferson out? Was it the rival poultry company owner, whose business suffered from the competition? Perhaps the heads of lamb and beef conglomerates? Or maybe someone connected with a disappeared Russian ship loaded with illegal arms? There are many leads to follow, and follow them Hubert does, blissfully unaware of his own blistering incompetence.

categories Reviews, Cinematical