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A French public servant from Provence is banished to the far North. Strongly prejudiced against this cold and inhospitable place, he leaves his family behind to relocate temporarily there, with the firm intent to quickly come back.
Holidaymakers arriving in a Club Med camp on the Ivory Coast are determined to forget their everyday problems and emotional disappointments. Games, competitions, outings, bathing and sunburn accompany a continual succession of casual affairs.
Dany Boon is a well-known humorist in my native France but I must admit he's not one of my favorite humorists. My favorite one is definitely Franck Dubosc. This film, "la Maison Du Bonheur" is his debut movie and for the topic, he didn't complicate the issue. Basically, it was a play he wrote himself and its popularity was wide enough to galvanize him to transpose it to the silver screen. A delicate operation because when one turns a play into a film, it is necessary to lighten the unities of time, space partly to avoid stage film production. Dany Boon perfectly overcame this obstacle. Throughout the film, the camera moves in several places and the knowledge that the story was originally a play is rapidly in limbo. But then, things go a little wrong...
The staple idea is classy and to tap it, Dany Boon set himself to a classical scheme. Hae acts a stingy creditor who for once decides to be generous by buying a country house near Paris. Unfortunately, many complications and vicious gears will plunge him in a downward spiral. When one discovers the film sequences in which concealed truth and two-bit lies reign in most of them, one figures that Dany Boon's film had a true potential for being a first-class French comedy. The problem lies in the fact that he didn't have enough verve and strength to make laughter last until the tail end. Laughter are too scattered here and there during the screening and it's a little regrettable because a good proportion of the sequences could have been exploited in a funnier way. That said, when I went to see the film in the theaters, at the end of the end credits, there was a sort of collection of out-takes and I laughed until I cried. Anyway, I don't want to demean Boon's piece of work because when he succeeds in tapping the comical reserve of a scene, it really works.
Dany Boon also hired a three-star cast whose input in the venture makes up a bit for the unfinished side of the comedy. Daniel Prévost is as jovial as disturbing and his character could be a distant cousin of Lucien Cheval, the tax inspector he acted in Francis Veber's exquisite "le Dîner De Cons" (1998). Michèle Laroque is a very subtle actress and Michel Vuillermoz "De la Comédie Française" makes his part count. Zinedine Soualem, one of the two lazy, incompetent workers and regularly featured in the Klapisch universe is irresistible. But there's one major problem and it's Dany Boon himself in the main role: he offers a rather wooden acting. He could have been so much better if he had been able to shade his role.
So, Dany Boon was within an ace of reaching the perfect comedy. He just lacked perseverance, audacity and so limited the treat to the audience. But it's not a reason to decry his film. So, don't pay attention to the current mark of the film on this site (a lowly 5.2 out of 10) and consider it as a palatable supplier of laughter. And the characters introduced in this film could be larger than life.
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