#38: The Intouchables (2011)

When and how did I watch this?

March 16th, 2017, on Amazon Instant Video.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?

French film about a caretaker and his quadriplegic employer. This is essentially a buddy cop film.

What do I know about it now?

It’s been a week of disappointing films so far (Whiplash and Modern Times both failed to live up to their rankings) and I hoped for another knockout foreign film.  Unfortunately, I was met with further disappointment, but this time in the form of an overwrought cliche flick, which strives ever so hard to achieve that feel-good tone but ultimately coming across as condescending. We have Philippe (Cluzet), a grumpy middle aged man stuck in a wheelchair looking for a suitable caretaker. We have Driss (Sy), a dude from the projects — portrayed as hardened as selfish — looking for an unemployment check.  They sort of run into each other in this job application scenario, and as you might expect in a movie like this, the two become close friends as they learn about each other.  Philippe gets hooked on weed, and Driss learns something about selflessness.  Good for both of them. The opener is funny; the rest of the plot is aimless. The film has at least a couple of montages — employed when the plot needs to move along, but really just a means to tell an uninteresting story more expediently and get us to the “meat” — an out of place awkward dance sequence, a weak conflict in Driss’ impoverished background, and no real big “a-ha” moments to hook the viewer. I don’t even remember how this thing ends, and it’s been less than a week. For #38, this is a real bummer.

What are some themes in the film?

Humility/pride, acceptance, perception/judgment

Did this affect me personally?

Nothing about this film appears sincere.

Why is this ranked #38?

The Intouchables broke worldwide box office records, meaning this is an international favorite.  It’s a feelgood movie, full of quirky jokes and a chill plot. Most viewers/voters would see this as an unobjectionable politically correct film that you can just sit back and enjoy and not think too hard about it.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She was bored.

Would I watch it again?

Nope. I was also bored.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

You’re likely to enjoy the film, but it’s not a life-changing picture or anything.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

This doesn’t belong on the IMDb Top 250 at all, yet here it is, a clear favorite of many around the world.  I can see its redeeming qualities, but nothing about the film stands out as worthy of reverence or adulation. Everyone is a caricature; the whole screenplay has been done before, and in more interesting ways. While the jokes, really the delight of the film, work on the surface, they’re often toying with peoples’ disabilities, shortcomings or differences — and surely we can (and should!) laugh at ourselves, but in a real situation these might ring false. In short, I think you’re supposed to like this movie, but not get too mentally involved at the risk of discovering its shallow story.

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