Smoking Causes Coughing
Benzene, Nicotine, Ammonia, Mercury and Methanol make up the Tobacco Force, a group of avengers fighting crime, their squad literally smoking out the bad guys and killing them with cancer. In their personal lives, they tell a young fan who immediately recognised his favourite superheroes, they are against cigarettes, since they make you cough.
The troop is sent to a team-building retreat in the woods, where their telling of campfire stories turns into a fierce contest that almost makes them lose sight of their task to save the world from an intergalactic Lizardman.
In the same year, the French auteur presented his bizarre social commentary Incredible But True at Berlinale Special section, then the equally bonkers Smoking Causes Coughing at Cannes. What both films also have in common are actors Anaïs Demoustier and Alain Chabat – the lead in the former feature voices the Tobacco Force’s rat puppet boss, who oozes green drool and causes heartbreak among the female group members.
Another guest star in this mockery of superhero movies is Adèle Exarchopoulos, who takes on one of the characters in a story told about a deadly thinking helmet.
These little tales that the characters narrate to each other are funny in their own right, but they don’t really tie into the film as a whole and disrupt any momentum the retreat could have built up. Apart from a suicidal robot and a talking fish frying in a pan, there are few surprises in the action.
While Smoking Causes Coughing is a perfectly amusing film to pass the time, it lacks the through-the-roof extremity and hilarity of much of Dupieux’s other work.
Smoking Causes Coughing is released in the UK on 7th July 2023.
Watch the trailer for Smoking Causes Coughing here: