John Anderson


Paris 36 ** 1/2 (2 1/2 STARS)

Paris 36, a period piece about a working-class music hall from writer-director Christophe Barratier, has a script that's like a grade-school intelligence test. The characters come in such bold, goofy shapes there's only one place each of them can fit into the narrative - as reluctant champion of the poor, working-class hero, hissable villain or sacrificial clown.

What gives it all some nutty charm is the way Barratier plants the plot - about the struggle to save a vaudeville stage called the Chansonia - in the 1936 heyday of the French Popular Front. The rights to decent hours and wages and vacations are dramatized in neighborhood service and...