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Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Intouchables Review

The Intouchables Review
by Joshua Handler
2012, 112 minutes
Rated R for language and some drug use

The Intouchables has been a massive worldwide success bringing in just over $345 million worldwide.  It is a good film, not even close to a great one, that has some fantastic performances, but has an over reliance on stereotypes and light humor.

This film has a very good, and true, story to tell.  It just does not approach it in an appropriate way.  It tells the story of a man (Fran├žois Cluzet), Philippe, who is paralyzed from the neck down who hires a Senegalese man, Driss (Omar Sy), to be his caretaker.  After a while, they become close friends.  The first half of the film focuses on stereotypes of poor African immigrants, and light, cheap comedy.  This may work like a charm in France, the country of this film's origin, but here in America, it is offensive and not even close to funny.  This is a different kind of offensive than films like Borat because the stereotypes are not played as satire and are used as part of the character of Driss.  However, they are not meant as mean. What would have worked better would have been a more subtly comedic approach with more realistic characters, and more of a balance of drama and comedy. 

The second half of The Intouchables works way better than the first half as it is much more serious, but still comedic, and very touching.  The ending is a bit abrupt, but the final scene was beautiful and showed me how truly great this film could have been had it kept with the tone of that scene.

The performances in this film are all great.  Fran├žois Cluzet has perfect comedic timing with deadpan delivery.  He also is genuine and warm as Philippe and is magnetic every time that he is on screen.  Omar Sy delivers a lively and energetic performance and works wonders with the sometimes mediocre material he was given.

I can completely see why the world has fallen for The Intouchables.  It aims to please everyone with a predictable story with likable characters and a happy ending.  I love a feel-good movie, but it must set the right tone.  This one doesn't for a substantial portion of it, and that is why I did not respond as positively as many others have.

Overall, The Intouchables is a good film, nothing more, nothing less.  It is worth seeing if you have already seen all of the other great films out or just need a good pick-me-up.


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