Directed by: Michaël Youn | 97 minutes | comedy | Actors: José Garcia, Michaël Youn, Isabelle Funaro, Ary Abittan, Jérôme Commandeur, Vincent Moscato, Jean François Cayrey, Franck Gastambide, Mousssa Maaskri, Hamid Najah, Fatsah Bouyahmed, Emilie Caen, Jean-Louis Barcelona, Martial Courcier, Kamel Benchemekh, Laurence Oltuski, Dominique Foure, Philippe Ambrosini, Michel Ferracci, Claude Sese
The half-brothers and in principle good-natured shepherds Muzafar and Ferouz are put on a plane to France by their president. Their mission: to blow up the Eiffel Tower to finally put the unknown state of Taboulistan on the world map. However, when their plane lands on the island of Corsica instead of Paris due to a strike by the French ground crew, the pair get to know a completely different side of France. It turns out to be the start of a crazy journey through a country that is culturally quite different from the traditional desert state of Taboulistan …
“Vive la France” was very successful in France in the spring of 2013 and was well attended and received positively by the necessary film critics. With their mustaches, curly hair, behavior and accent, the characters Muzafar and Ferouz are strongly reminiscent of Borat, the figure who saw the light of day thanks to the Brit Sacha Baron Cohen. The principle of two otherworldly wimps on a terrorist suicide mission leads to quite a few absurd situations. Although the humor is sometimes a bit cartoonish, clichéd and silly and not all jokes are a hit, “Vive la France” is regularly quite enjoyable as a light-hearted comedy. For example, the pair from Taboulistan are quite surprised that it is apparently out of the question in France to give women a spanking, one of them ends up in a game of rugby with a pair of French wardrobes, they enter with a shirt of arch-rival Paris. St. Germain a supporters’ bar of Olympique Marseille and they are almost put on a plane to Baghdad by the French Immigration and Naturalization Service. In fact, Muzafar and Ferouz endure many of their hardships only thanks to the help of Marianne Bouvier, a voluptuous and socially engaged journalist who sets herself up as the guardian angel of the two wimps. ‘Vive la France’ also occasionally makes poignant allusions to dictatorially-led banana republics or the French national character and playfully shows that Parisians, Marseillans, Corsicans and French from the middle of the country have little in common, despite the fact that they all share be of the same unified nation-state.
While plenty of better comedies have been made in modern film history, “Vive la France” is quite a nice picture overall. Definitely worth a look if you can handle somewhat absurd humor à la Louis de Funès or Borat and a hint of hidden social criticism.