Nos Jours Heureux

Happy Campers

July 25, 2006By Heidi EllisonFilm

Nos Jours Heureux, directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, is the quintessential summer feel-good movie, recommended for adolescents and anyone who attended a French colonie de vacances (summer camp) in their youth.

The critics were lukewarm on this one, but the public approves heartily. Four weeks after it opened, a large cinema was nearly full on a hot summer evening when the rest of the city-center multiplex was pretty much deserted. We were surrounded by young people who had obviously already seen the film at least once and laughed hysterically – often in anticipation of what would happen next – throughout.

For adults it is rather less droll, but it is interesting to see where the French love of Club-Med-style group singing and choreographed dancing originated. There is no plot, just a series of events: fights, crises, love affairs, three-legged races, etc.

Most of the film’s appeal comes from its surprisingly well-drawn and -acted characters. Jean-Paul Rouve stars as Vincent, the camp director who insists that parents have no contact with their children while they are under his authority, but who can’t manage to separate from his own clingy father.

The film puts a spin on most of the usual stereotypes: the overweight counselor, for example, played by the talented Marilou Berry, has no self-image problems and gets her man, while the sexy counselor Lisa (Julie Fournier). who immediately pairs up with hunk Daniel (Lannick Gautry), soon loses him to the next pretty girl that comes along. The one black character, played by Omar Sy, however, is portrayed as unrelentingly good-natured and, of course, a great dancer.

This is another one of those French comedies that just misses the quality label because it gives in to nostalgia and sentimentality. But it’s harmless fun, and the kids will love it.


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