I’ve been a bit slack in my foreign language movie-watching over the last week, but I wanted to end the month with something fun. Welcome to the Sticks was written, directed and stars Danny Boon, but he’s not the lead.
That role goes to Kad Merad who plays a postal worker who is desperate to get transferred somewhere on the southern coast of France. Instead, he is transferred to a small town in the far north of the country.
The north of France is to the French like the deep south is to many Americans. He fears that it will be incredibly cold, that the people will speak with terrible accents and everyone will be rude and backward and rather stupid.
It turns out that the climate is pleasant and the people are quite nice. The trouble is he left his wife and young son back in the south. When he visits them on the weekend she is so ready for him to be miserable up there he doesn’t know how to tell her he likes it. This causes a lot of sitcom or romantic comedy-style shenanigans.
There is also some business over Danny Boon’s characters’ love life and a lot of other very silly stuff. It is very breezy and very goofy and it makes me laugh. A lot. I’ve seen it before, we own it on DVD actually. I’ll no doubt see it again.
It probably won’t work for everyone and there is a lot that gets lost in translation. A lot of the gags have to do with the difference in language. In the north, they speak a dialect of French and there are a lot of jokes about the Southerner not understanding anyone or misunderstanding certain words.
I speak a little French but not enough to watch a French film without subtitles. Jokes about how two completely different words sound a lot alike are difficult to translate so I expect a lot of the humor here doesn’t work that well for non-French speakers. I was helped out by the fact that my wife is a French speaker and she helped get the jokes across. Also, her laugh is infectious.
But there are also loads of other jokes that don’t need translating. I’m surprised an American studio hasn’t adapted it for the USA. It would work well with someone from the coast of some New England state moving to Alabama.