It's the end of the school year. The long-awaited moment of summer vacation has arrived. Little Nicolas, his parents, and Grandma head to Hotel Beau-Rivage by the seaside. On the beach, Nicolas quickly makes a new set of friends: there's Blaise, who isn't on vacation because he lives in the area, Fructueux, who likes everything, even fish, Djodjo, who doesn't speak like them because he's English, Crépin, who cries all the time, and Côme, who always wants to be right and who is very annoying. But Nicolas also gets to know Isabelle, a little girl who always looks at him with big, round and worried eyes, and who Nicolas believes his parents want to force him to marry. Misunderstandings accumulate, blunders begin. One thing's for sure: for everyone, this will be an unforgettable vacation.
The original Nicolas film, still directed by Laurent Tirard, was cute and funny. Its humour relied upon genuine written material forming consistent scenes and situations, and often based on the child's point-of-view, as in René Goscinny's exquisite little stories. "Les Vacances" relies a lot on nods and references to past cinema, and the rest is either disjointed (loose ends - what happens in the end with the tight spot at the nude beach Nicolas' father gets himself into?...) or simply unlikely. Even though the excellent Valérie Lemercier and Kad Merad still play Nicolas' parents, the actors in general, save for Bouli Lanners as Bernique, are insincere in their delivery and reactions and/or poorly directed. The father is supposed to be heartbroken by his wife extending her stay without him at the crazy big-money party, yet his face remains almost expressionless all the while...
Also, one scene suggests that hurting severely a live animal can be perceived as humorous, which I have found particularly tasteless.
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