On a train headed for France, Graham and Allen (“my friends call me ‘Rex’”) Granville are two California natives on their way to claim a chateau left to them by their deceased uncle. Rex, a self-centered penis paraphernalia salesman, just wants to get business taken care of. But Graham, whose personality is a cross between a hippie and a puppy, has already fallen in love with the idea of sharing a “castle” with Rex. He’s sure that all French girls look like models, and that he and his half-brother can rent golf clubs and boogie boards when they get to town. Neither of them expects what they get, a pile of debts with a batch of French servants who want nothing to do with them.
The Château was written and directed by Jesse Peretz (First Love, Last Rights), former bassist for the Lemonheads and son of Marty Peretz — publisher of the New Republic. The initial fish-out-of-water possibilities soon turn into an exhausted “strangling the new language” routine, then sadly wither into “who can sleep with the cute maid first?” As the brothers Graham and Allen, Paul Rudd and Romany Malco make a valiant attempt to actualize their characters, but fall victim to two-dimensional dialogue. The most engaging and dynamic characters are the French employees (Didier Flamand, Sylvie Testud, Maria Verdi, Philippe Nahon). This is probably because we mostly don’t know what they’re saying, and we’re left with Americans that fit easily into old-shoe stereotypes but find no warm corners in our sympathies.
The film is trying. You can almost see it with its little French dictionary trying to pull out some meaning and irony. But just as the brothers continually fail to connect with their French employees, The Château is never quite able to overcome the cultural moat surrounding its ludicrous and contrived plot.
Opens Friday exclusively at the Maple Art Theatre (4135 W. Maple, W of Telegraph). Call 248-542-0180.
Anita Schmaltz writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.