Inevitably perhaps, most contemporary co-productions lack the distinctive flavor of one particular country of origin. When you view a film and start to wonder how much financing came from each nation involved, something's amiss. As a comedy, HOT CHOCOLATE is neither French champagne nor
domestic beer, but somehow the cast enlivens the material often enough that the film doesn't seem like a joke made meaningless after having been retold by too many UN delegates.
Although his chocolate factory has been the family business for centuries, Hubert (Francois Marthouret) yearns for ready cash. Loyal chauffeur and business advisor Eric Ferrier (Robert Hays) begs him to reconsider liquidating, while Hubert's ex-wife, Lucretia (Patricia Millardet), threatens to
monkey wrench any prospective deals by constantly endeavoring to revive their marriage. On the other side of the Atlantic, Texas heiress B.J. Cassidy (Bo Derek) cultivates her sweet tooth for acquisitions by offering to add the unprofitable chocolate business to her portfolio. Mistakenly expecting
a refugee from TV's "Dallas," Eric doesn't realize that B.J. is the prospective buyer. The two rendezvous at several scenic locations, but B.J. also doesn't fathom the full extent of his ties to Hubert.
Meanwhile, Hubert is being vamped by Lucretia and the local workers have united in protest against what they fear is the imminent shutdown of the chocolate factory. Charming the suspicious rank and file, B.J. doesn't just propose a takeover, she offers a lucrative partnership with a million dollar
bonus for Hubert. While Eric remains skeptical of B.J.'s intent and infatuated with her beauty, Hubert accepts the deal only to end up trapped in an elevator while two punks make off with the bonus. After B.J. lassos the desperadoes, Eric can no longer suppress his feelings for her.
Serendipitously, the villagers retain their beloved place of employment, Eric captures B.J.'s heart, and Hubert gets lots of money and a second chance with the persistent Lucretia.
Thanks to the light touch of farceurs like Hays and Marthouret, HOT CHOCOLATE elicits more affection from its audience than its screenplay would ordinarily merit. Hampered by an all-purpose muzak score and a hoary mistaken-identity plot that only Fred and Ginger could have transcended, HOT
CHOCOLATE still leaves a sweet aftertaste.
Perfectly cast for once, Derek (10, BOLERO) responds to Hays's comedic aplomb and, of course, looks radiant enough to make any man stumble all over himself. The fairy tale settings are seductive; the plot complications whiz by painlessly. If there is nothing distinctive about the film and if the
mesh of international players never achieves a satisfying ensemble, several players stand out including the flamboyant Millardet. In addition, the scenes of rioting peasants are hilarious and reach a level of lunacy that this romantic farce usually finds outside its grasp.
Sweet but inconsequential, HOT CHOCOLATE proves that you can whip up a tasty confection even with some missing ingedients (like assured direction, captivating musical scoring). While this isn't the yummiest romantic comedy available for consumption, Hays and company make it much more than just
another stale farce. (Mild violence, some adult situations.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Inevitably perhaps, most contemporary co-productions lack the distinctive flavor of one particular country of origin. When you view a film and start to wonder how much financing came from each nation involved, something's amiss. As a comedy, HOT CHOCOLATE… (more)