Senin, 14 Maret 2011

Les sous-doués aka The Under-Gifted (1980) - Claude Zidi

The Cours Louis XIV, a small college in Versailles, has acquired a notorious reputation and attracts only the least able of students, as the constant steam of exam failures testify. The headmistress, Madame Jumaucourt, decides enough is enough and institutes a new regime to ensure things change for the better. Her latest set of hopeless students are unimpressed by constant surveillance of their lessons, smoke detectors in the toilets and physical brutality at the hands of the sadistic gym instructor. However, their scheme to get their own back only lands them in deeper trouble. Arrested for blowing up their school with a bomb, the students are given one last chance: work hard to pass their end-of-term exam or else go straight to prison...

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Back in the years of high school, a perfect age for this film, cinema for me mend summer time, sky roof theaters, uncomfortable canvas seats, mosquito repellants and a wish that it wouldn't rain.

And one day, I was old enough to take the bus for an one hour travel to the big city where the real cinema theaters were. Together with by best friend, I had my first experience of the short going to see Spiderman. At that age it actually looked good. But the second time we dared to make use of our teenage freedom, we went to this film. The theater was full. The audience was delighted. We were laughing all the way to the end of the function and some even applauded when it was over.

I never forgot this experience. All the movies that followed had to be compared with this one.

Back in the '80s, in Greece, this film became a legend. French comedies were predominant in those days and we knew French comedians better than their American colleagues. A whole fashion of school movies was provoked by the success of this idea and several bad taste local versions were produced.

Today, apart from me and my friend, probably no one else remembers the comedy that thrilled the country. Personally I still wish for more.

What it lacks in artistic merit and originality, Les Sous-doués just about makes up for in visual jokes and comic momentum. Like many of Claude Zidi’s films, it achieves what it sets out to do, which is simply to entertain. Admittedly some of the comic situations are laboured and repetitive, but there are some delightfully funny moments and, overall it makes an entertaining – albeit intellectually barren – piece of Gallic cinema. The magnificent Michel Galabru puts in a typically faultless comic turn, whilst a fresh-faced Daniel Auteuil starts to make his mark, easily outshining his young co-stars. The popularity of this film (now regarded as a cult classic) resulted in an equally zany sequel: Les Sous-doués en vacances.

* Director: Claude Zidi
* Script: Michel Fabre, Didier Kaminka, Claude Zidi
* Photo: Paul Bonis
* Music: Bob Brault
* Cast: Michel Galabru (Le commissaire), Maria Pacôme (Lucie Jumaucourt), Daniel Auteuil (Bébel), Philippe Taccini (Julien), Tonie Marshall (Catherine Jumaucourt), Hubert Deschamps (Léon Jumaucourt), Raymond Bussières (Gaston), Georges Anderson (Le père de Togo), Féodor Atkine (Le père de MC 2), Henri Attal (Mohammed), Gaëtan Bloom (Gaëtan), Richard Bohringer (Le pion)
* Country: France
* Language: French
* Runtime: 92 min
* Aka: The Under-Gifted

English subs

no pass

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