Monsieur Hulot's Holiday

Movies, Comedy
4 out of 5 stars
Monsieur Hulot's Holiday

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Pitched somewhere on the comic-iconic scale between Chaplin’s Little Tramp and Jerry Lewis’s manic manchild, Jacques Tati’s bumbling stick-bug of an alter ego is considered by many to be the funniest creation to come out of Gallic cinema. The actor-director had already demonstrated a knack for staging provincial French slapstick, courtesy of his debut feature Jour de Fte (1947), but it was this first appearance of Hulot—pipe clenched at a 45-degree angle, stork-walking toward whomever he’ll slow-burn infuriate—that ensured his legacy as a screen comedian.

This brand-new restoration of Tati’s ode to the hazards of leisure makes the various misadventures look more drop-dead magnifique than ever, even if it doesn’t hide the fact that the movie is simply a patchwork of slight, Sennett-lite vignettes. They’re enjoyable, surely, but Tati would go on to use the Hulot character more effectively (see Mon Oncle) and would make far superior films like Playtime, the single most ambitious comedy of the 20th century. Still, the sketchlike nature of Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday doesn’t take away from Tati’s clockwork timing in several sequences-—that derailed card game is sublime—or his achievement in making a rapid-fire succession of sight gags and sound effects seem as relaxed as a seaside stroll.—David Fear

Opens Fri; Film Forum. Find showtimes

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Duration:
91 mins

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