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Two harum-scarums who think they are good stand-up comics try to make a career in showbiz, partly for the career, partly to seduce women. They try alternatively the scene, a movie set and TV. They only succeed in making a fool of themselves. Written by
Jean-Marie Berthiaume <email@example.com>
This movie is not one of those of which the capacity of appreciation is a given. This is a purely local movie, crafted solely for the entertainment of Quebecers. It is based on our traditions, our news (purely unknown to the rest of the world except for France and Canada, and even then), our inside gags- I don't think enjoyment from this movie can be had from much other people at all. They say French humor can't be translated, and this goes beyond that. Probably because every Quebecer has to see a part of themselves in these two want-to-be comic stand-ups that live a story of perseverance, determination, luck, and some bad luck.
Ding and Dong are desperate to get well off the Montreal show business, being granted minor roles in theaters and such but soon getting kicked out due to a total absence of professionalism, or even knowledge in art culture, local or worldwide. The movie starts at the peak of their miseries, when they get thrown out of a rather unclean bachelor in an eastern part of Montreal that in fact was rented by a man who was gone on a trip. He returns, finds out they've been camping there the whole time, and they're onto the streets. They're confined to going door to door telling jokes to kids for 25 cents each, after running out of money after an hilarious segment in which they spend their last few bucks in a taxi "south-bound for 17$!" only to wind up alone at night in the middle of a tunnel under St-Lawrence River. But fate seems to take their well-being in it's hands when they're led to wander the rich streets of Westmount and enter the mansion of a dying corporate president. Dong and Ding insist on telling him a couple last jokes, so he can die happy, so her servant takes our two heroes to him, and to much amazement from his lawyer, the "great voyageur" finds great laughs to be had from their overly clichéd word-plays and creative wit. Discouraged by humanity's lack of compassion towards others the aged man had not made any decision concerning his enormous will. He decided out of spite, just before dying, to tell his lawyer his enterprise, along with a worth of 30$M, in Canadian unfortunately :) , is all going to both helpless mates. Of course they quickly get accustomed to the riches, buy off Quebec's National Theater that had fired them in the beginning for revenge, and practically make the whole scene their hilarious one. The last scene, the first presentation of their adaptation of Corneille's Le Cid, is unmatched in it's rapid-fire, non-stop jokes and parodizations.
To a Quebecer like me, this film can best be described as complete. There's a cameo or role of nearly every cinema and television figure we know, and still today I recognize some I had not noticed before. It is filled with great parodies of every type of things filmed with a camera. It somehow mixes the classical and contemporary movie styles. The humor is timeless, fifteen years later the situations perfectly fit with our scene and I laugh throughout the entire movie each time, as do my friends. It IS however classifiable somewhat as a drug oriented movie, as the two actors (Meunier and Thériault) are known for partying a bit hard and pretty early into the day. Few scenes in the movie have them being straight, and there are plot breaks (though short) as you would find in Cheech and Chong that allow for "reviving the atmosphere". I am not considering this as a negative point to the movie since it was made that way for artistic reasons and marketed towards it's rightful audience.
The unanimous success of this movie was sure to fire-start the TV series La Petite Vie written by Meunier, in which we find many roots from Ding et Dong and Meunier's earlier works, the most popular TV comedy show in the history of Quebec (along with Piment Fort), watched religiously for almost 10 years.
It is too bad really that a foreigner would watch this movie and wonder all the way through just what the heck is going on. Who are all these actors, what is supposed to be funny, and what goal does all of this have, are questions that inevitably rise.
Ding et Dong has repositioned the bar for comedy in Quebec, and it's influences are still seen to this day. It will continue to be loved by many as long as this generation of Quebecers is alive and likely after that.
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