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1 item from 2006

Those Happy Days

3 May 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

A pleasant enough but slight coming-of-age comedy set in a French summer camp, Those Happy Days (Ces jours heureux) is very much a Gallic Meatballs minus Bill Murray.

Selected as this year's City of Lights, City of Angels closer, this world premiere is a feature-length version of a 2002 short by the writing-directing team of Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, a sunny reminiscence filtered through the 35-year-old eyes of Vincent (Jean-Paul Rouve), who, a decade earlier, had worked his way up through a summer camp situated in the southwest of France to become its director.

Vincent quickly discovers that his 10 counselors can be just as much work as his 80 kids, what with their own behavioral issues and awkward romances.

While the humor is genially inoffensive, it would have been nice if Nakache and Toledano had created a few characters that went beyond summer stock. Instead, we get the usual overweight/precocious/medicated/nerdy mix among campers and counselors alike.

The notable exception is the always impressive Marilou Berry (Look at Me) as the camp's resident earth mother, who manages to imbue her particular cardboard cutout with some palpable three-dimensional life.

Although the film ostensibly is set in the mid-'90s, the soundtrack is heavy on '70s-style pop and funk, which might have made for a culturally more intriguing setting.

Then again, Meatballs has already been there and done that. »

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