Camping

Camping

***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The film's title can't help but put you in mind of flurries of pink feathers and John Inman but, in fact, this solid slice of Gallic comedy owes more to a heritage of slightly saucy seaside postcards than anything else.

Michel Saint-Josse (Gérard Lanvin) is a divorced, buttoned-up stuffed shirt of a cosmetic surgeon, heading off to Marbella for a swanky summer holiday with his, slightly estranged, daughter Vanessa (Armonie Sanders) in his top-end 'James Bond' British car. This being France, of course, they are not alone, since it is the annual vacation and the roads are filled with the "holiday crush".

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Also heading for their annual sun-soak are the regular campmates of the Blue Surf - think Butlins without the Red Coats - many of whom have been meeting up once every 12 months for years. There's Jacky (Claude Brosser) "the hub of Blue Surf" and his missus (Mylène Demongeot), who've been holidaying there since they carved their names on a tree in 1975, ageing lothario Patrick (Franck Dubosc, who also wrote the script), whose wife and daughter are back home for reasons not immediately apparent and a menagerie of others.

If it weren't for the fact that everyone is speaking French, this could easily have been moved to Skegness, since the characters are of the solid but eccentric type which Britain normally has a monopoly on.

Naturally, the classy car turns out to be a disaster and Michel and Vanessa are taken under the wing of the campsite crew - "We're one big family here". This is the cue for a good old-fashioned culture clash as Michel has to come to terms with the working classes he initially turns up his nose at. Also thrown in is some gentle comic business between nationalities and a healthy dose of marital infidelity.

Dubosc, though occasionally hamming it just a little too much, is great fun as the laydeez man who is coming to realise he's getting too old for this lark and some of the one-liners are excellent. While Camping isn't breaking any new ground, it ploughs the old furrows with finesse - steering clear of Carry On crassness - and never takes itself too seriously. Dubosc and director Fabien Onteniente have a lightness of touch which never stoops to poking fun at the working class, instead choosing to celebrate their camaraderie. Camping bubbles with the energy found on campsites - where everyone is so up for a good time, they overlook any underlying tackiness - and has a heart of gold which is sprinkled lightly with sugar, rather than immersed in it.

Reviewed on: 17 Apr 2007
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Culture clash comedy on a holiday campsite.

Director: Fabien Onteniente

Writer: Emanuel Booz, Franck Dubosc, Philippe Guillard, Fabien Onteniente

Starring: Gérard Lanvin, Mathilde Seigner, Franck Dubosc, Claude Brasseur, Mylène Demongeot, Antoine Duléry, Frédérique Bel, Christine Citti, Laurent Olmédo, Eliott Parillaud, Béatrice Costantini

Year: 2006

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: France

Festivals:

French 2007

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