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3 out of 5 stars
Comic writer-director Dany Boon’s broad, non-PC, supposedly ‘heart-warming’ farce trades on French regional prejudices that may bemuse audiences here. Provençal postmaster Philippe (discombobulated but bonhomous Kad Merad) is posted north after impersonating the disabled in order to procure a sought-after Côte d’Azur transfer and finds himself sentenced to two years among the smelly-cheese-and-offal-loving, lisping burghers of Bergues, south of Dunkirk.

Initially expecting a cold reception, as his well-travelled uncle has told him of a community of retarded coal miners existing in temperatures approaching -50C who pronounce ‘a’ as ‘o’, Philippe warms to the dietary and dialectically challenged locals (notably Boon’s ingénue, Antoine). But will Philippe’s sun-worshipping son and spouse respond as positively to the land of frost, friendship and fricadelle-et-frites? There’s some mildly amusing, local-départment-pleasing, set pieces – the Dunkirk carnival is clearly a hoot – and a soupçon of sentimental uplift, but the most fun comes with the triple-‘s’-sprayed subtitles. Fancy ssshom Coco-Colo, anyone?

By: Wally Hammond

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