Quite a bit of Brute Wanted is rather funny. The whole idea is funny–dimwitted, failing actor (Jacques Tati) goes for an audition and it turns out he’s agreeing to wrestle a musclebound Russian grotesque. Tati’s got a nagging wife (Hélène Pépée) who also manages him.
A lot of the short is spent on the fight promoters. Tati and co-writer Alfred Sauvy exercise brevity with their exposition when it comes to Pépée and Tati’s situation so the fight promotion scenes just go too long. And so does the wrestling match, with Tati hilariously trying to avoid his opponent.
Barrois’s direction is never on par with the script’s humor, but it’s usually adequate. In the wrestling match, not so much. Barrois loses track of Tati, who’s holding Brute together, and spends it on his scheming friend, played by Rhum.
These problems are tolerable. But the final joke? Cruel and unfunny.
Directed by Charles Barrois; written by Jacques Tati and Alfred Sauvy; music by Marcel Landowski.
Starring Jacques Tati (Mr. Roustabat), Hélène Pépée (Mrs. Roustabat), Rhum (Mr. Mérandol) and Kola Kwariani (Krotov the Tartar).