The 1981 film- An American Werewolf in London- managed to artfully combine the horror genre with comedy. It was well-crafted, clever, funny and chilling, all at once. I don’t know if the people who made An AmericanWerewolf in Paris were attempting to go for a similar effect, but, if they were, it was not successful.
Tom Everett Scott plays Andy McDermott, an American who is traveling through Western Europe with his buddies, Chris (Phil Buckman) and Brad (Vance Vieluf). Their goal is to experience the biggest thrills of their sophomoric lives by doing daredevil-type stunts, like bungee- jumping from the top of the Eiffel Tower. While Andy prepares to accomplish that goal, he and his friends see a beautiful girl (Julie Delpy) obviously intent on committing suicide. In an act that totally defies the laws of physics, he jumps from the tower at the same time she leaps and manages to grab her before she can become a big, splattered mess.
She runs off, but he wants to find her again and when he does, they go out on a date. Later he and his friends get invited to an underground club called La Lune, where they naively think a wild party is being held, not realizing that it’s a social gathering place for werewolves and they are on the main menu. While Brad is killed, Andy gets off with a bite, but you know what that means. Before you know it, Andy also becomes a werewolf.
It turns out that the distressed French miss he saved is named Serephine Pigot and she is supposedly the cursed spawn of the American werewolf who was killed in the first movie and the English nurse he became involved with. She is one of many werewolves in Paris and the rest of the film revolves around Andy and Serephine battling the”bad” werewolves and trying to keep them from getting hold of a special serum to start a big revolution and other stuff you could care less about. Without giving away more of this, one of many great eighties movies, let’s just say that, in spite of all the special effects, everything turns out relatively predictable. As difficult as it may be to believe, this movie actually makes werewolves boring.
Watching characters morph into hairy critters is supposed to be horror-inducing, but here the animatronic werewolves are not as effective as intended. The first movie used far less special effects, but was a lot more frightening. Also, call me a purist, but a horror movie set in London just seems more fitting than in Paris. Werewolves who live in a city that worships Jerry Lewis are not as terrifying, frankly. Basically, what An American Werewolf in Paris lacks is the charm of the film it is supposed to be a follow-up of. Director Andy Waller fails to capture the style and pace of the original. An American Werewolf in Paris doesn’t possess wit or romance or, frankly, even horror. You’d probably be more scared if a kid wearing a cheap Halloween mask jumped out of the bushes and yelled, “Boo!” than taking part in any of his movies.
While you actually liked David Naughton’s character in An American Werewolf in London and hoped beyond hope that he would somehow survive, Tom Everett Scott’s character in the sequel doesn’t draw you in the same way. Scott, whom I enjoyed tremendously in That Thing You Do, is wasted here. The way this move is though, you don’t care as much about him and his dopey friends, because everything is played too much for laughs. Delpy is a beautiful woman and a competent actress, but this is not one of her best film roles and there are zero sparks between the Andy and Serephine characters.
In the end, An American Werewolf in Paris places far more emphasis on impressing audiences with all the special effects than it does in creating a riveting storyline and, because of that, this film comes up short.