Africa paradis (2006, Sylvestre Amoussou)

The rarest thing: a smart, funny satire that actually works. Europe is falling into chaos with raging unemployment, while in the “United States of Africa” the people prosper. Immigration is strictly controlled, so our young white protagonist lovers, despite their education and training (teacher and engineer, I think), can’t get meaningful work in Africa. They try it anyway, paying a smuggler to fly them into Africa to take their chances. They’re caught and quite humanely imprisoned in a high-tech facility. She (Pauline: Charlotte Vermeil) takes a job as a domestic servant to Modibo Koudossou (played by the director), a tolerant pro-immigration-reform politician, while he (Olivier: Stéphane Roux, voice of the narrator in Ratatouille) escapes and goes on the run, taken in by a group of poor whites who live in the housing projects.

Meanwhile, Modibo’s rival politician Yokossi (Emile Abossolo M’bo: Ezra, Night On Earth) has got the crooked police chief (Eriq Ebouaney, star of Lumumba, also in Femme Fatale, Kingdom of Heaven, 35 Shots of Rum) gunning for Modibo. Yes, there are crooked cops even in a utopian African film. Modibo doesn’t get to pass his reform bill, but at least he escapes assassination and our lovable white kids help defeat the bad cop. Reunited, Olivier offers Pauline the chance to return home to Europe in shame and poverty with him, but she elects to stay and marry noble Modibo, who has fallen for her, instead. Olivier, though proven good with electronics, was always kind of a douche so this is a happy ending.

Movie is definitely cheap-looking, but not The President Has AIDS-cheap, a respectable made-for-TV-looking cheap. The writing is full of fun satirical tidbits and race-reversal jokes that delighted the High audience. Katy liked it too, and we can’t account for the 4/10 rating on the IMDB…

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