eyelights: the cast. the setting. the various themes.
eyesores: the Jérôme and Christiane subplots.
It’s incredible how one’s impression can change over time. After watching the whole series of ‘Les Bronzés’ a couple of years ago, I was rather underwhelmed, and even disliked the first sequel tremendously. I felt that the first one, lackluster as it is, was the best of the bunch, and that the others were of varying quality.
This time around, I think that the series goes uphill the whole way through; while I still like the first one pretty much equally, the sequels appeal to me more than they originally did.
I can’t explain it. I wish I could blame it on the poor quality of the files I initially downloaded versus the superior quality of the Blu-ray transfers I’ve since picked up but, in truth, that doesn’t hold up. The fact is, I had this third and final part on DVD from the onset, so the quality simply has not changed.
And that doesn’t explain why the first remains at a snug 6.5, whereas, the second rocketed from a dismal 3.5 to a relatively-respectable 6.75. And why this one fared slightly better, going from a 6.0 to a 7.0. Is it because my expectations were lowered this time? Has my taste changed? Or is it a combination of things?
Perhaps it’s because the cast and characters are so familiar to me by now. Familiarity breeds contempt, they say, but I believe that it may have been a bonding agent here. Even though I find none of the characters especially likeable, I still found them all interesting in their various imperfections:
-Popeye has snapped back from his lowly days in ‘Les Bronzés font du ski’ and is back to philandering ways, trying to balance his wife and mistress while running his spouse’s resort.
-Jérôme has fallen on hard times after being sued for a botched plastic surgery.
-Bernard has such a difficult time accepting his son’s homosexuality that he has a conniption and ends up incapable of functioning properly.
-Nathalie is obsessed with her dog and has become extremely self-absorbed.
-J.C. became a popular hairdresser in the United States and is enjoyed a rebirth of sorts, complete with wacky wigs to hide his bald pate.
-Gigi has fallen in love with Jessy in the U.S. and has returned to her friends a plastic bunny, with breasts the size of small watermelons.
I dug these middle-aged versions of the characters. To me, they felt like people we’ve all seen or heard of before: totally imperfect, going through their various indulgences and trying to make the most of their lives, but not entirely happy. The lot of them are bonded by time and experiences, but aren’t exactly the closest of ties; one feels the distance between them.
I loved that J.C. and Gigi came back from the States with a youthful vigour. It’s a cliché, for sure, but this actually contributed to the dynamic quite a bit; we could feel a different vibe coming from them than from the others, a zest that was long gone from all of them except Popeye, who now lives a healthier lifestyle, including Tai Chi.
(On a side-note, I wasn’t so sure about Gigi’s fake boobs. What was up with that? They’re so humongous that the whole time I was staring at them, like a freak show you can’t keep your eyes off of. I just couldn’t help but wonder if they were prosthetic or if Marie-Anne Chazel actually had them done. Either way, it’s nasty business. Totally appalling.)
The cast was exceptionally good. After so many years in French cinema, they had all mastered their craft and totally brought their best game to this one. Whether it was comedy or drama, they all delivered fully. My favourites were Gérard Jugnot and Thierry Lhermite; they improved leaps and bounds since their formative years. My least favourite were Christian Clavier and Dominique Lavanant, who seemed to be sleeping at the wheel a bit.
The film was constructed more wholistically than the other two. The first was more episodic, whereas the second only had a bit of plot towards the end. In this one, while the group merely reconnects at Popeye’s resort, we get the sense that the characters all have logical arcs that come to completion by the end. We don’t feel like it’s random or disjointed.
Similarly, the humour is blended into the story more fully than in previous installments; the gags weren’t entirely disconnected from the story this time, which was nice, because it sometimes helped to move the film along. I especially liked the way that they tackled such issues as infidelity and homosexuality, both with levity and intelligence; it wasn’t exploitative and/or preachy.
As strange as it may seem, the fact remains that I liked ‘Les Bronzés 3’ the best of the bunch this time around. I liked it enough to want to watch it again, whereas the other two are very much hit and miss affairs for me. Oh, it’s still not grand cinema, but it’s nonetheless a fun little comedy that’s been put together quite professionally by all involved.
As far as I’m concerned it’s a fitting close to the series, even as it sets us up for another should there be a hunger for it. Could ‘Les Bronzés 4’ be on the horizon? If it is, I’ll no doubt want to check in with our french friends to see what they’re up to now.
Date of viewing: May 14, 2013