Paris 36

Rated 3.0

Paris 36 is nothing if not hardworking, cramming several different films into one bubbling, slightly sugary soup. Among them are a 42nd Street-style backstage musical, a Lady of Burlesque-esque backstage mystery, a gangster flick and a pre-World War II story of anti-Semitism and political unrest. It’s stirred through with the sort of Amelie-infused, overbearing whimsy that always turns my stomach. Gérard Jugnot plays Pigoil, a simple laborer at a shuttered neighborhood cabaret whose wife deserts him. To prove his worth, Pigoil rallies his friends to reopen the theater, which is now owned by a local hood. Christophe Barratier’s follow-up to Les Choristes has some good moments (especially the musical numbers), but it feels mechanical. All of the elements for a great musical are present—love, inspiration, emotion, song and humor—except for the magic.