Manu (Grégoire Ludig) and Jean-Gab (David Marsais) haven’t accomplished much in life beyond their long-standing and loyal friendship. It’s the kind of numb buddy friendship that traditionally fuels lazy American comedies such as Dude where is my car? and Invoice & Ted. When Manu is hired to deliver a mysterious box, he takes Jean-Gab for a ride. But this lunkhead road movie soon takes a detour into a little more quirky territory. It is, after all, the last film by French master of factual absurdity Quentin Dupieux, whose previous films include Rubber, about a deadly car tire, and Deer skin, which featured Jean Dujardin as a man possessed by the monomaniac ambitions of his jacket.
Troubled by a strange rattling vibration, the couple discover a giant fly trapped in the trunk of the car they had stolen for the trip. Jean-Gab, the more visionary of the two, names him Dominique, and offers them to train him to earn money. Everything in the film, from the washed-out color palette to dismal, boisterous dialogue to throwaway comedy, is underrated – anything but the CGI fly the size of a sheep. And it is from this juxtaposition, between the banal and the bizarre, that Mandibles derives much of its comedic appeal. But if the film is very funny, what’s more unexpected is how oddly touching it is. As a portrait of friendship, seen through the compound eye of a mutant insect, it is multidimensional and rather moving.