From the very concept, "Camping" feels like the films marketed by a cigar-smoking producer who knows what works and what doesn't. Obviously, this isn't targeted for underground auteur theaters, it's pure French popular cinema tailor-made for a popular audience. And even the more sophisticated moviegoers, driven by a shadenfreude delight, will find good reasons to go see how slobs having fun in campsites.
My suspicion rose when the main star of the film (half the publicity) was a popular comedian who made a famous sketch about a bizarre specimen of human race: the camper, walking in thongs, swimming trunks, colorful T-shirts and occasionally on his hand a glass of Pastis or a toilet roll. The actor is Franck Dubosc as Patrick Chirac (like the President) and in the poster, he's the one inviting us to join Campsite Blue Flows and its joyful family of regulars: Claude Brasseur and Mylène Demongeot as the veterans, Mathilde Seigner and Antoine Dulery as the dysfunctional couple and a former Weatherwoman from hip French channel "Canal +" who didn't have the same career as Louise Bourgoin and, if anything besides delighting our eyes, totally dates the film.
Naturally, there will be a newcomer to discover this crazy world, and to play the outsider's role, the handsome Gérard Lanvin as a successful plastic surgeon who just bought the James Bond car and takes his teen daughter for holidays in Spain. Since he doesn't strike as the kind of man to mix up with the common people, naturally, his car beaks down in the middle of the campsite, and it'll take time to find the right part. Serves him for being such a slob, like Patrick would say "I don't drive James Bond's car but at least, I can drive mine" This is Lanvin's lesson to learn, nothing we couldn't have seen coming, but let's not be harsh because the film was actually more enjoyable than its rather predictable premise.
Actually, I was surprised to learn that the 'camper' sketch wasn't the first inspiration, which shows since none of the gags (except a few one-liners) were used in the film. It was actually rather restrained as if the director and the writer were convinced about having such well-written characters that they didn't needed an avalanche of gags to make us laugh. Take Brasseur's curmudgeon, he checks the light before taking off, when he arrives, he lightly throw his thongs and puts his feet on and checks the time. We get it, the man is a regular, and everyone is cheering when he comes. There's one problem though he didn't see coming, now that the campsite works with Internet, his reservation had a little bug, and he doesn't have the site he used to have for 30 years.
This is funny already, and an actor of Brasseur's caliber doesn't need to overdo the reaction since the material is already convincing, and all his attempts to convince the sweet Dutch couple to switch the sites will provide some good moments and a very satisfying conclusion. "Camping" works most of the time thanks to this ability to never provide the expected, although some situations are (the outsider, the infidelity within the couple) it's in the treatment that the film confines to realism and even social commentary. Lanvin finds the right balance between diplomacy and cold politeness and the actor exudes such charisma that we never really find him dislikable even though that's what the story tries to make him look like. And that's the secret of "Camping", the actors' acting contradicts the script for the film's own good. And even the editing is well-done, once you ask yourself, "by the way, what has become of this guy", bingo, the next scene features him.
I have two reservations though. First of all, I know the teen daughter serves the plot for one or two particular cases, I didn't like the fact that she never answered for the sleeping drug she put on her father's glass, but I did like the moment where he slapped her, because she insulted him in a bus, here's a cliché situation that was realistically handled by a good actor. But to match this actor, there should have been a stronger personality in that girl, and the script, instead of helping her, makes her look duller and cliché, with an obligatory (and random) romance whose only purpose is to show how out of touch Daddy is. The daughter should've been a key character, instead of a foil. The film could've done without her.
Less disposable, was the character of Patrick. Dubosc is a likable and sympathetic actor, but he overplays it as if it was an extended sketch, which isn't bad in a certain type of comedy, except when everybody is acting natural. I get it he's an entertainer, but acting wise, compared to the others, he was actually in Lanvin's shoes, not his thongs. Such an irony for a film that centered its marketing campaign on him!
As we say about night, "let's sleep on it", and holidays plays the same role with our daily problems, and a campsite can be an interesting place to question our life and try to change it for the best. It looks totally contrived, yet the merit of "Camping" is to make it feel real and warm, and it doesn't take a lot of effort to be funny. And like they say, a good story with a few laughs is always better than a meaningless thing trying too hard to make you laugh.
The same year saw the released of the third opus of the iconic "Bronzés" series, but despite its commercial success, the film was a critical flop, and one that audience quickly forgot. 10 years later, we still remember "Camping" and it also spanned a sequel, and for some reason, I think this is going to be remembered as a classic even in 10 years. Not without reasons.
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At the campsite Blue Waves, people arrives from all over France. Like every year, this is the time of reunion around a drink customary for families of regulars. Except this year, Mister Pic not have his location number 17, the Gatineau are tent apart, and Patrick Chirac, the playboy of Dijon, is dumped by his wife. It is in this camping that Michel Saint Josse, great cosmetic surgeon in Paris, is found in spite of himself to undergo existential problems of a previously unknown species of him: the camper .
Uploaded by: FREEMAN
December 31, 2022 at 11:48 PM