Thursday, 5 March 2015
SERIAL (BAD) WEDDINGS aka Qu'est-ce qu'on a fait au Bon Dieu? - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Racist Humour from France for the whole family, ALL in the Family, that is!
Dir. Philippe de Chauveron
Starring: Stephen Bogaert, Alejandro Rae, Kris Demeanor, Lori Ravensborg, Mandy Stobo, Mikaela Cochrane, Alana Hawley, Joe Perry, Carrie Schiffler, Graeme Black, Zoe Glassman
Review By Greg Klymkiw
Racist humour doesn't get better than this! An affluent Catholic French couple have spawned four ravishingly gorgeous daughters, all smart, all well-educated, all settled into good careers and, have I mentioned how gorgeous they are? These four pure, lily-white French goddesses could well have been Playboy Playmate material. Many men have no doubt lusted after them, men of wealth, of distinction. Three of the daughters are already married. Their hubbies all have noble professions. One is an entrepreneur, the other a criminal defence lawyer and, GLORY BE TO GOD, the third is a banker.
There's a problem, however. None of the husbands are Catholic. In fact, their daughters have hitched themselves to the wagons of Jewish, Arab and Chinese life partners. "Oy, Gevault" the French Catholic parents would cry out, if they were Jewish instead of Catholic. They wonder how they could be so unlucky. What did they do to deserve this?
Luckily, their fourth and final daughter is going to marry a Catholic and the couple is overjoyed. Little do they know that the prospective hubby is from the Ivory Coast. You betcha! He's the right religion, he speaks French, is apparently very handsome, BUT, he's Black.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
To top it all off, the father of the Ivory-Coaster is as big a racist as French Daddy. The two of them are veritable Archie Bunkers in extremis. Hilarity ensues, cultures clash and the cage match of the century is looming.
Serial (Bad) Weddings isn't racist at all, but it sure garners one knee-slapping guffaw after the other from some of the most hilarious racist verbal spewing and sparring since Bunker held court on the long-running Norman Lear TV series All in the Family. As well, the eventual verbal fisticuffs twixt these two old racist patriarchs, yields some of the funniest stuff in the movie and, in all honesty, some of the funniest stuff in any recent comedy.
If there's any problem with this movie at all, it's that it finally seems like little more than a feature-length TV sitcom. That hasn't stopped the picture from being the 6th-highest grossing box-office smash of all time in France, number one at the box-office all across Europe and amazingly, the hugest grossing hit in La Belle Province where it played theatrically for 30 straight weeks. Besides, my own TV-sitcom kvetching is a minor criticism considering how entertaining the movie is. Serial (Bad) Weddings certainly doesn't dive into the intolerable cesspool of unfunny, corn-pone sit-com shenanigans the way in which the awful Canadian Corner Gas - The Movie did. Now that was an embarrassment!
The other minor quibble I have is with the English title. In French it was the much more appropriate Qu'est-ce qu'on a fait au Bon Dieu? which means something like "What'd we do to you Dear God?" It seems to be that that or some equivalent would have been far closer to the spirit of the piece and much less clunky than the stumble-bunny parenthesized version they have now.
To suggest the movie itself is racist, as some boneheaded critics have already done, is absolutely idiotic. There's nothing intentionally racist about Serial (Bad) Weddings at all. The racism is rooted in character as opposed to being the attitude of the film. The very notion of using the racist attitudes of the characters as humour is what not only tempers the hatred, but in fact, allows the picture to examine racism and the whole field of stereotypes unfettered by knee-jerk responses to that which is politically correct.
Is there racist humour in the movie? Yeah! Uh, the characters, you see, happen to be old-world racists. The movie, however is not racist. It's NOT an attack upon different races and cultures, but upon racism itself.
And it does so with skill, exuberance and even a bit of sweetness. Director Philippe de Chauveron keeps all the action moving briskly and brightly enough. He has a special touch with dinner table sequences which, believe it or not, are as difficult to pull off properly as an action set-piece. His screenplay, co-written by Guy Laurent keeps all the comic set pieces rooted in the inherent drama, but also offers a solid structure and just enough character to keep the principals from veering too far into archetype. The entire cast bubbles with sprightly insouciance tempered by just enough investiture into the domain of their characters to keep them allca shade away from being too broad. These craft elements, above all, might explain how the movie is as solid as it is to have yielded such humungous popularity.
But really, now, the damn thing is simply, firmly and infectiously hilarious.
The Film Corner Rating: *** 3-Stars
Serial (Bad) Weddings is an A-Z Films release and is about to take English Canada by storm. Initial playdates in Toronto and Ottawa are: Cineplex Varsity, the Cineplex Varsity VIP, Cineplex Empress Walk and Landmark Cinemas (Kanata/Ottawa).