What I remember most about John Landis' 1981 comedy/horror classic,
An American Werewolf in London, is that its star, David
Naughton (most widely known at the time as the cute dancing Dr.
Pepper pitch boy) lost his commercial contract with Dr. Pepper
because he bared his white ass in the film. But I also have various
recollections of the original film (on which An American Werewolf
in Paris is loosely based) being wickedly funny and frightening
as hell. One could say the same of the latest entry into the werewolf
film category, but it would be a big, hairy lie.
Tom Hanks/David Naughton love-child Tom Everett Scott (That
Thing You Do) stars as Andy, the geekish, well-meaning sensitive
guy who saves beautiful maidens and unwittingly gets his ass chewed
by a werewolf, thus becoming one himself. Andy is part of some
ridiculous macho excursion on which he and his travel buddies,
Brad (Vince Vieluf) and Chris (Phil Buckman) try to out-do each
other in increasingly stupid displays of manhood. Andy's pièce
de résistance, it turns out, is to bungee jump from the
Eiffel Tower at night. Enter the beautiful and mysterious Serafine
(Julie Delpy) who happens to be bent on killing herself by jumping
off the Eiffel Tower sans bungee cord. Andy tries unsuccessfully
to convince her that life is worth living and winds up jumping
after her in the first of two ridiculous rescue scenes. He manages
to grab her ankle just before impact, laying her to rest on the
ground just before snapping back up, courtesy of his bungee cord,
and bouncing his head (for the first of many hilarious bonks)
on a steel girder.
From here, Andy drags his friends on a madcap search for "the
perfect girl," only to be alternately snubbed and teased.
On the stooges' second visit to Serafine's manor, they meet up
with Claude, quite obviously a werewolf, who invites them to a
party at Club de la Lune (get it?). They go (Brad leaves before
the fun begins for some inexplicable reason), get locked in with
a bunch of other stupid Americans and puking French transients
and, just before the gracious hosts transform into gracious, flesh-eating
werewolves, Serafine shows up sending Andy running for his life
down the sewer. Dipshit Chris follows but is quickly disposed
of. Andy makes it out alive but not before being bitten.
When he awakens, Andy finds himself
in Serafine's home where she tries to explain to him that he is
werewolf by taking her shirt off and
offering him a glass of pureed human hearts. Hell, if a shirtless
Julie Delpy told me I was a friggin' midget, I'd do my
best to look as short as possible. Andy, though, is not so easily
convinced and flees. It isn't until he actually turns into a werewolf
that he believes he is one, a period during which he kills a bimbo
and one of the film's countless bumbling cops.
By now, Andy's undead friend Chris and the bimbo are appearing
to him on a regular basis, urging him to kill the werewolves that
have doomed them to walk the earth until the perpetrating creatures
are dead. Problem is, Andy is the perpetrating creature
in the bimbo's case, and he's just not ready to die--at least
not until he kills Serafine and eats her heart to make himself
human again, which he doesn't particularly want to do, either.
When Andy is kidnapped by Claude and his gang of thugs, Serafine
rescues him once again, and the horror of a weak subplot begins.
As it turns out, Serafine's half-mangled father has been working
on a serum intended to prevent the transformation from beautiful
French girl to hairy-ass wolf-thing. But the serum works in reverse,
causing instant transformation. Claude and his legion of doom
steal the samples and arrange another "party" for "Americans
only." Naturally, the "good" werewolves, Andy and
Serafine, show up to try to prevent the feast. A few bumbling
cops, more sewer footage and head bonks later, Andy is faced with
either killing Serafine or enabling more sewer footage. He chooses
the latter and eventually winds up on a subway car with Claude.
Much gnarling and gnashing ensues.
I won't give away the ending, but trust me when I say it's pretty
stupid. An American Werewolf in Paris has its moments,
but it pales in comparison to the original. Far less attention
is paid here to the actual transformation from human to werewolf,
scenes that made the London version visually stunning. The subtle
humor employed in the original--Naughton's undead sidekick
appears in various states of decomposition, body parts falling
off--has been reduced to slapstick nonsense in this one to the
extent that it makes one embarrassed for the film's actors. An
American Werewolf in Paris isn't all bad, but it's quite a
bit more like watching the Keystone Cops chase the Three Stooges
down the sewers of Paris than it is like watching a horror film.
A disappointment to say the least.