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I bought Francoise Ozon's Sitcom because the plot sounded interesting, and it'd been getting a lot of comparisons to Luis Bunuel, one of my favorite directors. It was also quite cheap, which helped my decision.

I can see where people made the comparisons to Buñuel, but it's more in the form and the lack-of-love-for-the-bourgeoisie, and less so the quality and love Buñuel puts into a film. Sitcom might actually be worth watching as a curiosity since it's simultaneously too restrained and too over-the-top.

A quick rundown of plot: Bourgeois Father brings home a lab rat to his family. If anyone touches it/is bitten/whatever, they are changed emotionally/cognitively in such a way to destroy the family. The son becomes gay, the daughter becomes an S&M freak, the mother becomes obsessed with her son's homosexuality, and the father is sort of disassociated and there's lots of incest and other sexual changes that are supposed to be shocking, but are kind of not so much, really.

Part of my problem with the film was how the First Event of Breaking Down The Family is the son declaring his homosexuality. I know that to some people it's a big deal, and that this kind of thing has been known to destroy families (why it does is still baffling to me, but that's not important), but since the film's supposed to be a farce, isn't that a pretty, well, vanilla thing to have happen? If it were me, I personally would have gone over-the-top with the Coming Out Scene. It wouldn't be homosexuality he's declaring but something worse. The reactions would be basically the same as they were in the movie, with the Mother freaking out going "What? No!" and then everyone else basically being Fine With It. After all, just with the way my brain is set up, it's much weirder for me to think of something being "Oh no! Gay person! This is horrible!" than being fine with it. (Even though I know there are a lot of people who do think it is horrible. These people are called "idiots".) It's not like Sitcom was supposed to be realistic, so why not go "Oh, this is a farce! Why don't we actually do something that's actually shocking and hopefully funny to start this off, and have everyone else be OK with that shocking thing?"

Oddly enough, this is the other problem with the film. Ozon seems more intent on showing things that will shock us rather than things that will actually be funny or make a good point. As such, you get the occasional S&M type scene or incest reference. You get the impression he's trying way too hard.

The beginning of the film is also such a cop-out. The film starts with the father killing the family, then a "Several Months Earlier" title card pops up, making you think it's the whole End Of The Movie First, Then The Events Leading Up To Said Ending structure.

Only, when this actually happens, it's revealed that it's actually the father's dream, and didn't happen "several months later" or at all. It's the filmic equivalent of the old joke of the poster reading "SEX! Now that we have your attention, be sure to buy this product!"

I don't think it would have necessarily been better had that actually been the actual ending, and it wouldn't have worked at all if he'd put the real ending at the top of the film. Really, Ozon should have just cut that bit out completely. It's a cop-out at the top of the film, and it would have been a lame, predictable cliché as the real ending. There's nothing you could do with it.

On the topic of endings – the real ending is pretty hilariously bad too. It's the Attack Of The Stock Footage. I'm glad that Bert I. Gordon has had an influence on filmmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.


The entire film is Ozon deciding he's going to put on the Surrealist Social Critic Hat now without realizing why Buñuel's stuff worked. There was an IMDB review talking about how the content of the film is "sick" and "[i]t is a blast to watch if you can stomach it, otherwise run from this title like it was the plague" – but… it's not really. It's not terribly gross or anything, it's just badly made. It wasn't a total surprise though; the review that spurred me to get it made me think it'd either be Hilarious and Awesome or Painfully Stupid and Bad. And, since the utterly brilliant Forbidden Zone, which we'd just seen before Sitcom turned out to be the former, I guess this one had to be the latter.

Sitcom is a film I don't really know how to fix. I think there might be a good film in there, but I don't know how to get it out. I do know, however, that that's not it.