Synopsis

A man has everything: dozens of servants, a palace, vast woods, gardens, a lake, mechanical toys, private entertainment troupes of musicians and dancers. He has it all - but love. When alone, he sits at a desk, sighing, and looking at a photograph of a pretty girl. One day, the circus descended onto his palace, and amidst all the fun it brought, he recognized the Amazon on the white horse - the girl in the photograph. The girl is now the mother of a small boy, Yo-Yo, whom she considers that looks like the millionaire, even under a clown's make-up. The boy will spend some time in the palace, in awe of so much riches, but he will leave (in a dream-like scene) on the tusks of the elephant. Time passes - and one day Yo-Yo will be the owner of his father's palace in decay. Starting from scratch, he will rebuilt it, and be praised as a great clown, an artist, a film-maker, a millionaire. Yet, something is amiss... —Artemis-9

Cast

Pierre Étaix
as Yoyo / le millionaire
Philippe Dionnet
as Yoyo enfant
Luce Klein
as L'écuyère
Martine de Breteuil
as Madame de Briac
Philippe Castelli
as Le domestique
Luc Delhumeau
as Le douanier

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MartinHafer 5 /10

I am definitely in the minority.

squeaky shoes, drawers, carts, etc. much like "The Artist" minimal dialog

Pierre Étaix co-directed one of Jacques Tati's great hits, "Mon Oncle" and I noticed that many folks think his style is very close to Tati's--which it is. However, and this is very important, if you don't like Tati's film, you'll probably not be particularly fond of "Yoyo". The film looks a bit like the recent film "The Artist" combined with Tati as well as Chaplin. Many love this, it's true. I didn't. I just felt that the pacing was extremely slow and the film lacked energy and fun.

The film begins with a bored, rich guy (Pierre Étaix) in a huge house. He seems to have no interest in anything and eventually you learn it's because he's lost his love--a woman who ran off to be in the circus. This portion of the film is very much like a silent film--with very little dialog and VERY over-exaggerated sound effects. I thought it rather annoying when you hear almost explosively loud squeaking shoes and sliding drawers. It was supposed to be funny...it wasn't.

When the stock market crashes in 1929, the bored rich guy sells off the contents of his house and goes in search of this lady love. They meet and tour the country entertaining--along with her son (the rich guy now realizes he has a kid), Yoyo. Yoyo is a small and very talented clown and when he grows, he is ALSO played by Étaix. He moves back into the empty mansion and restores it to its old glory--but eventually it turns out he's pretty bored and the home is emotionally empty.

If you like mimes and Jacques Tati, then by all means watch this film. Otherwise, for me, it just wasn't particularly interesting. While it had some very nice sight gags, I just didn't care one bit about the characters--a serious flaw.

Reviewed by zetes 9 /10

A great rediscovery

The films of Pierre Etaix are pretty much unknown today, having been tied up in a legal dispute for decades. It was finally resolved in 2007, and they've been restored and reintroduced within the last few years (Criterion's nice box set was released in 2013). Yoyo is perhaps the best regarded of them. It is a fine French comedy. Somewhat reminiscent of Tati, but it has its own charms. Etaix stars. At first he plays a lonely rich man in 1925 (it opens as a silent film), who uses his extravagant wealth to distract himself from missing his true love (Claudine Auger), a circus performer. She returns with his clown son, Yoyo, in tow. After the stock market crash, Etaix joins his girl and their son in the circus act. The film soon skips ahead to WWII, where Yoyo, now an adult clown (also played by Etaix) entertains troops and hopes for better times. The plot on this one is very loose, and the comedy's not always laugh-out-loud funny, but it is very amusing and entertaining throughout. It's also quite lovely at times. It seems that this Etaix person is an actual discovery.

Reviewed by GManfred N/A

Tati plus Chaplin

This movie was on TCM the other evening and I am glad I caught it. Host Robert Osborne explained that it was tied up in litigation for many years and has had little TV or theater exposure. Coincidentally, it was at the Film Forum in NYC in April, along with 3 other films of director/star/writer Pierre Etaix.

As mentioned in my title, he borrows heavily from both Tati and Chaplin, and it is a very successful blend of both. He has lots of clever sight gags of the kind Tati sprinkled liberally throughout his films, as well as the prolonged kind of skit favored by Chaplin. But whereas Tati's characters are primarily two-dimensional, Chaplin's are often fleshed out with heart, and the humor contained sometimes comes with a tinge of pathos. Etaix combines the best elements of both masters and the result is a very thoughtful brand of comedy which draws the viewer in like a vortex.

I only recorded this one, but I wish I had recorded the others. His is a unique type of humor which comes with an emotional ingredient I had not seen before in film comedy. It is presented as a mini-saga, for lack of a better term, of a boy who grows to manhood trying to earn enough to restore his father's château. His mother, a circus acrobat, had become estranged from his father years earlier and retained custody of the boy. More than 40 years elapse during the film and Etaix plays both the father and, later, the boy grown up.

A reviewer above mentioned that Etaix displayed genius. I would like to see more proof but the reviewer is on the right track. "Yoyo" is a special film from a gifted filmmaker which will touch your heart as comedy rarely does.

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