Fun enough but only the rough draft of an excellent comedy to come.
If you own the DVD of "Nos jours heureux", I advise you not to proceed the way I did, I mean don't watch the short entitled "Ces jours heureux" AFTER watching its feature-length adaptation "Nos jours heureux". You will be better advised to respect the chronological order and if you do I guarantee you will feel all the better for it. As a matter of fact, this short - pleasant if seen first - is only the rough draft of the more inspired and funnier comedy it will become under the title "Nos jours heureux" and is therefore bound to be a letdown if seen in the wrong order. The basic plot is the same: the departure of a group of children and their counselors to a summer camp, their stay there (only evoked in the short version) and their return home. The theme is identical too : the experiences, relationships, joys and qualms of the group, both seen at the children and the adults' level. Several fine comedians (Omar Sy, Fred Testot, Lionel Abelanski,...) appear in the two films. Which is not the case of the lead actor: Lorant Deutsch in the short is indeed replaced by Jean-Paul Rouve in the feature and seen in the same role AFTER Rouve, Deutsch appears less convincing than him. But I am not certain at all that had I seen Lorant Deutsch in the first place I would not have thought his performance satisfactory. Be that as it may, the main merit of the two films remains unscathed. In the two cases, the viewer enjoys the writers-directors' faithful and amused description of summer camps (not so surprising if you consider the fact that Nakache and Toledano were counselors themselves). On the contrary, they deftly avoid the usual stereotypes found in French films (Claude Miller's "La meilleure façon de marcher" being another notable exception): everything in both films (the insecurities of the lead counselor, the tense relationships between the counselors, the kids' attitudes from the problem child to the teenager in love) rings true. Simply, the characters, the situations, the way the characters interact, is more developed, more elaborate and funnier and thus more effective in "Nos jours heureux". "Ces jours heureux" is pleasant, nothing more. "Nos jours heureux" is VERY PLEASANT, to say the least. If you want to imitate me, feel free to do so. But, honestly, it would be a pity...
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