4/10
War isn't fun, but comedy is war
22 June 2015
What is it with people and culture-clash-comedies these days? Maybe it's that they offer respite from an almost tyrannical political correctness and allow us to remember the olden days, when it was still okay to point fingers, throw stones and stereotype. When you were allowed to have a good old chuckle at some minority's expense. The effete, fat kid in class, is all I'm saying. And don't act as if you don't know what I mean. So maybe it meant years of therapy to him, but also oodles of fun to everybody else. Or maybe it's that those minorities of cult-clash-coms always live in an enviably solid microcosmos. Maybe we long for a bit more structure these days. Otherwise, I can't explain why this pretty slight film is so popular. It's about a Portugese couple who have eked out a living for thirty years in Paris doing menial jobs -- as a concierge and a builder respectively. When they inherit and get the chance to return to the "homeland" everyone around them is trying to sabotage their plans by making them feel extra welcome and valued. Actually, that's a pretty good plot. Only the comedy is so sanitized and anti-anarchic, the drama is so construed, the people are so well-adjusted, good-looking and nice, that any attempt at humour is nipped in the bud. The filthy rich owner is trying to woo his ageing bricklayer, rather than throw him out on the street and replace him with the next minion? Wouldn't that be nice! But it's not funny. To be funny, you have to be mucho mean, and you can't have a go at the Nobel Peace Price at the same time.
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