Movie Review – The Hollywood Reporter
Apparently the Beverly hillbillies formula – or the Fresh prince of Bel Air vanity, if you had not yet been born in the 1960s – never gets old. In fact, most countries in the western world seem to have at least one variation of the unrefined silver story. In France, the director Olivier Baroux made a first film on the Tuches, a backwater clan living in Monaco after winning the lottery, in 2011, when he sold a very respectable 1.5 million tickets.
Fast forward five years and the family is back, in the (grammatically wobbly) Title the Tuché: The American Dream (The Tuché 2: The dream American), in which the youngest of the clan, Donald, studies in California. At school, he meets a girl from a wealthy family and, you guessed it, must pretend he comes from a sophisticated background. Cue surprise family visit and lame gags involving random USA collection cliches, ranging from Klu Klux Klan and the Amish at an Elvis wedding impersonator-slash-officiant in Las Vegas.
The bottom line
I can’t tuche this.
While vastly inferior to its already hokey predecessor, this sequel scored a shocking 1.5 million admissions in its first weekend and only fell 20% in its second week. Without a doubt, the producers of Eskwad and Pathé are already planning a list of suites and spin off this will make Marvel’s upcoming release schedule really empty. God help French cinema.
Unemployed lazy Jeff (Jean-Paul Rouve), whose instructions to her hairdresser must have been “I’m going to have a Richard Simmons, extra large”, is married to Cathy (Isabelle Nanty), a Rubenesque hausfrau. Together they fathered the beautiful beauty queen and aspiring actress Stephanie (Sarah Stern), the aspiring rapper of sorts. Wilfried (Pierre Lottin), a.k.a Tuché Papa, and the precocious and industrious Donald, aka Quack-Quack (Theo Fernandez, encoring like the rest of the cast). The latter’s name / nickname combo – think Duck! – is a good barometer of the film’s humor, which is childish and naive when not frankly stupid.
Like the first part, Quack-Quack tells the story at the beginning and the end and is largely forgotten in the 80 or so minutes in between, both as a character and as a narrator. At the start of the game of them, Donald lives in or near LA, where he studies for a month to improve his English. When he formally befriends an indescribable girl of his age, Jennifer (Alice Morel Michaud), he is introduced to his wealthy parents, the Carrington (Ken Samuels, Susan Almgren), who are so cultured that they speak perfect French even if heavily accented (how this is supposed to improve Donald’s English is to be guessed).
Of course, Daddy Carrington introduced the nerdy and sweet Donald to his fraternity, which is frequented by a battery of teens groomed to become captains of industry. The film is hopelessly vague about what kind of dorm, school and fraternity the 15-year-old actually attends (!) Kasich presidency.
Donald tells Jennifer’s parents (whose source of wealth isn’t entirely clear either) that her father is a plastic surgeon with several clinics on the Old Continent. The reason is hopelessly naive: charlatan thinks he will never have to introduce them to his rich and filthy mountain dwellers who are back in their Monegasque mansion whose decor, as seen in part one, suggests Martha Stewart under steroids. But they all fly over, land in Kansas City, then drive an RV to LA (and later, Vegas). While flying straight to the City of Angels would have been easier, the public wouldn’t have had the chance to see these yokels meet their American counterparts, who are all religious fools, miser, dangerous or all of the above. A sequence involving the loss of their 15 credit cards is particularly lame, inspiring the film’s most needlessly lengthy attempt at humor.
Like in the local box office monsters Untouchables and Serial weddings (bad), what passes for crude humor in France can be seen as race-insensitive in the United States and elsewhere. Stephanie’s boyfriend, Georges (Ralph Amoussou), for example, is taser on a plane because, well, he listens to rap music with explicit lyrics and he’s black, so he must be a terrorist. Hahaha. In another scene, Georges is somewhere in the American countryside when a van pulls up to drive him. Inside are several men in white robes with pointy hoods. While not racially inconsiderate, the purported gags are extremely lazy, as they simply assume seeing a black person be taser or get into a van with KKK membership is in itself funny. These gags are not only offensive, but also sloppy, with no real set-up or reward, relying on man’s lowest instincts to make people laugh while reinforcing stereotypes.
Perhaps an even worse offender is a scene in which the Tuches meet a bunch of Native Americans, none of which seem to be played by real, you know, Native Americans. Surprisingly, they look less like 21st century American citizens of a reservation as a group of men in Indian carnival attire. The joke is supposed to be that grandma (Claire Nadeau), who only talks about subtitled gibberish, manages to communicate with them because she once fell asleep, drunk, watching Dance with the wolves. While the idea itself isn’t funny at all, that’s not the real problem; what’s offensive isn’t just how they look, but also the fact that the filmmakers didn’t even bother to make grandma speak something that looks like a language, let alone Sioux (which is spoken in wolves but not in Kansas or Colorado, where the family is supposed to travel to get to California).
As in the first film, the feelings of well-being are broad and widely applied. Tuché Dad’s infatuation with a beefy Latino gardener (Canadian hottie Christian de la Cortina) is supposed to help send a message of tolerance – there is even a gay marriage! – but this subplot includes so much tasteless, homophobic stuff, transphobic and just clueless jokes that they completely erase any goodwill audiences might have had towards their gay characters and the movie’s supposedly progressive message. The couple’s romantic relationship is reduced to anal sex, for example, while a homophobic character suggests that a simple gender reassignment operation could set the couple straight. These Tuchebags are perhaps even more ignorant of the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity than the creators of the totally mistaken phrase Danish girl, although this movie at least had some tricky rather than crass performances, not to mention the fabulous dresses.
the Tuché‘s the writing is incredibly lazy and fuzzy throughout, despite (or maybe because of?) five credited writers. There isn’t really a third act to speak of, and a lot of subplots are introduced but left hanging. What happens to Georges, Jennifer, the Quebecois neighbors (no French comedy is complete without mocking the Quebecois accent) or that sticky French-speaking Hollywood talent agent who promises to make Stephanie a star? This would all be less of a problem if the film provided a lot of laughs, but this reviewer couldn’t handle even a single laugh during the film’s, at least thankfully brief, 94-minute runtime.
The French word for country bumpkin is redneck (” watch “). and although these characters can be up all night to get courageous, it’s never less tiring to watch.
Production Companies : Eskwad, Pathé, TF1 Film production, Prod by 4 Cine, Jouror Movies
Actors: Jean-Paul Rouve, Isabelle Nanty, Claire Nadeau, Sarah Stern, Pierre Lottin, Theo Fernandez, Ken Samuels, Susan Almgren, Alice Morel Michaud, Richard Robitaille, Christian de la Cortina
Director: Olivier Baroux
Screenplay: Philippe Mechelen, Lionel Dutemple, Julian Herve, Benjamin Morgan, Nessim Chikhaoui
Producer: Richard Grandpierre
Co-producers: Roman The Great, Vivien Aslanian
Director of Photography: Christian Abomnes
Production designer: Perine Closed off
Costume designer: Sandra Gutierrez
Editor: Richard Marizy
Music: Martin Rappeneau
Sales: Pathé International
No scoring, 94 minutes