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Film / French Fried Vacation

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French Fried Vacation (Les Bronzés in French, literally translated as "The tanned ones") is a 1978 French vacation comedy film directed by Patrice Leconte. It spawned a trilogy.

The 1978 film satirizes life at holiday resorts, and features a group of various French people going to Ivory Coast with the Club Med. It was made by the theatre troupe Le Splendid', which included Michel Blanc, Marie-Anne Chazel, Gérard Jugnot, Josiane Balasko, Thierry Lhermitte, Christian Clavier and Bruno Moynot. It is based on a play they wrote and created, Amours, Coquillages et Crustacés. Serge Gainsbourg's song "Sea, sex and sun" is used in the opening. It ended up a surprise box office hit and put the names of pretty much everyone involved on the map.

A sequel was released in 1979, French Fried Vacation 2 (Les Bronzés font du ski, literally translated as "The tanned ones go skying") featuring most of the same characters going to Val-d'Isère, a winter sports resort in the French Alps. While it attracted less people in theaters than the first film, its popularity managed to surpass it over time, due to its memorable slapstick gags, regular broadcasts on French TV and winter sports resorts never fading out of popularity in France. And also very possibly by contrast with the more sex-related humor and nudity of the first film, making the sequel much more suitable for a wider audience.

A second sequel came out in 2006, French Fried Vacation 3 (Les Bronzés 3: Amis pour la vie, literally translated as "The tanned ones 3: Friends for life"), reuniting the now much older cast in Sardinia.

See also Santa Claus Is a Stinker, the other slapstick stage play and film the Splendid' troupe was famous for, and their comedy film from the following year, Gramps Is in the Resistance.

This film series provides examples of:

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    French Fried Vacation

  • Almost Kiss: Bobo is going to kiss Gigi on the shore, when suddenly she recognizes him as one of her ex-colleagues.
  • Body Paint: One of the activities at the vacation camp. Bernard really sucks at it.
  • Bungled Suicide: Jean-Claude's backstory. He was dumped by a girl (after a 48-hour relationship) and he tried to commit suicide: he swallowed two tubes of laxative. He survived.
  • Butt-Monkey: Jean-Claude. All the women ignore him. A bucket of water is emptied on his camera. Bourseault and Bobo remove his swimsuit. He sleeps on the beach because his roommate snores, where insects and lizards attack him. He feels faint in the swimming pool. Bernard puts a custard tart on his head.
  • The Casanova: Popeye seduces many women. During a party, he is seated in the middle of a group of women who all lust after him. He says that he has sex with about 80 different women over the course of the season.
  • Disguised in Drag: Bobo is disguised as a woman for the show. He still wears his costume when he chats with Gigi on the shore.
  • Do You Want to Haggle?: Jérôme brags that he can lower the price of a statue sold by one of the locals and that Bernard was interested in through haggling. After the seller resolutely sticks to his price, Jérôme eventually comments that Bernard should simply give him what he asks for and be done with it.
  • The Film of the Play: The film is an adaptation of the play Amours, Coquillages et Crustacés.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: In the sea, Bourseault and Bobo remove Jean-Claude's swimming suit, so he uses seaweed to protect his modesty on the beach.
  • Hypocrite: Popeye cheats on his wife all the time, but can't stand the fact that she indulges in it as well.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Bernard and Christiane are going to have sex on the beach, when Popeye interrupts them.
  • Love Dodecahedron: There are many relationships, so we will limit ourselves to the relationships between the main characters: Popeye is married, but he cheats on his wife with many women, including a German woman, Nathalie, and a young girl who travels with her parents. Bernard is married with Nathalie, but he tries and pick up Gigi and Christiane. Nathalie is married with Bernard, but she sleeps with Popeye. Gigi is seduced by Bobo, by Bernard, and finally by Bourseault. Christiane gets chatted up by Bobo, Bernard and Popeye, but she never has sex with them. Jean-Claude tries to pick up all the women, but he always fails miserably.
  • Mood Whiplash: Bourseault's death comes out of nowhere in an otherwise wacky film. It is only referenced once afterwards to cause Gigi some grief and is never mentioned after that.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Popeye, who is a womanizer, tells Nathalie before having sex with her that his wife is not a slut, that she is faithful. Subverted later, when Popeye discovers that his wife cheats on him.
  • Naked People Are Funny: The Hand-or-Object Underwear gag mentioned above.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Between Bernard and Nathalie. When Bernard gets to the resort, he confesses to Nathalie that he cheated on her in Paris. Nathalie then tells him that she cheated on him with several men in the resort (which is not true). Then, she seduces Popeye and has sex with him, while Bernard in retaliation seduces Gigi and Christiane. In the end, they make up.
  • Really Gets Around: The main reason behind the holidays: seducing as many people as possible and having as much sex as possible. All the characters have several partners over the course of the film, except Jean-Claude of course and Christiane.
  • Running Gag: A fat guy tries several times to water-ski. Every time, he fails miserably. The last time, he remains out of the water for a couple of seconds and he considers this as a success.
  • Sexy Man, Instant Harem: During the party, Popeye is surrounded by a group of women who lust after him. It includes Nathalie and two German women. Jérôme asks Popeye's permission to dance with one of the German women.
  • Speak in Unison: When the two German women leave the protagonists during a party. Also contains Rhymes on a Dime (in French only) and Punctuated! For! Emphasis!.
    German women: Bonsoir. Nous allons nous coucher. ("Goodnight. We're going to sleep.")
    Jérôme and Popeye: [to the others, with the exact same tone] Bonsoir. Nous allons les niquer. ("Goodnight. We're going to fuck them.")
  • Stripperiffic: A rare male example for Jérôme, who loves to use trunks that show a lot of his pubic hair or buttocks.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Bobo and Christiane are going to enter Bobo's hut, but Popeye is inside with a girl. Popeye tells Bobo that they can still get in. Bobo tells Christiane and she is shocked by the proposal. She tells him: "Why not a gang bang!" Then Bobo insists on the fact that he did not think about the foursome.
  • Uncool Undies: When Popeye removes his pants in front of Nathalie, she can't stop herself from laughing because he wears large briefs.

    French Fried Vacation 2

  • Age-Gap Romance: Between Christiane and the much older Marius. Christiane's friends are visibly shocked by the age gap.
  • Bookends: In the beginning, Popeye is giving Mrs Schmidt a ski lesson. She falls and hurts herself. In the end, Popeye meets her again along the street. She is just got out of the hospital. She falls again.
  • Butt-Monkey: Everyone gets hit by comical misadventures over the course of the film, but Jean-Claude probably suffers the most of this.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Jean-Claude violently wakes up from his bad dream in which he murders his ski instructor.
  • Character Catchphrase: Jean-Claude's ski instructor cannot stop making a point about "planting the ski pole".
  • Clingy Costume: Nathalie's feet get stuck in her ski shoes thanks to a goofup by Popeye and she finds herself forced to sleep with them.
  • Crappy Holidays: A whole group of Butt Monkeys goes on a vacation in the French Alps, what could go wrong? (answer: everything)
  • Elevator Going Down: Invoked by Jean-Claude, who compares his situation (being stuck in a small hut in the mountain with Gigi and Nathalie) with the trope and suggests to Gigi and Nathalie that they should have sex.
  • Emasculated Cuckold: Popeye constantly cheated on his wife. He even left her to live with a mistress. When he came back, his wife had started a relationship with another guy. Now he faces a total humiliation: his wife openly cheats on him with another guy, who gives him orders as if he was a simple employee of his wife's shop. Popeye has to endure this situation because he has no money to go live elsewhere.
  • Gargle Blaster: An iconic scene inspired from a similar one in a theatre play by the Splendid', Le Père Noël est une ordure (three years before that play was adapted on film). Since they got themselves lost in the mountains, the protagonists are given shelter by local villagers. After a Masochist's Meal, they are offered a drink that is described as "shallot liquor". Inside the bottle is a large toad, with a lovely description of how it was dehydrated before being put inside. One of the villagers says "You gotta drink it fast, else it stings the tongue," then downs his glass without problem. When the protagonists finally (and very reluctantly) try out the beverage, the effects are varied. Gigi immediately faints; Jean-Claude's face turns red and he bursts into tears; Bernard starts coughing violently because his mouth is burning; Nathalie falls head-first on the table; Jérôme and Popeye get stomach pain... and Gilbert finds it rather tasty.
  • Hypocritical Humor: While ski touring, the protagonists discuss about how dirty the Mediterranean coast is, especially the beaches that are filled with garbage... while throwing garbage in the snow.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Jérôme (Christian Clavier) is a doctor in medicine... and he's called upon by a couple of farmers who found no one else to help cure their pig. Since he was about to ski with his friends before being paged, saying he's a bit angry at them would be a true understatement.
    Jérôme: Why did you came here? I don't do beasts!
    Farmer Guillain: You've been so kind last time, doctor...
    Jérôme: No! Last time, I just helped you out, but I'm not a veterinary, you've got to understand, Mr Guillain!
    Farmer Guillain: Doctor, he has anemia... He doesn't eat.
    Jérôme: Has it? Then eat it, I don't know what to say! Just eat it!
    Pig: OOOOOINK!
    Jérôme: [going back to the door, calling the nurse, frantically jumping up and down] Come on, nurse, to hell with them, get them out of there, and you, just eat your damn pig! Got that? Pig out on it!
  • Indulgent Fantasy Segue: Jean-Claude has enough of the ski instructor's "ski pole planting" shtick and murders him by planting his ski pole in his back... then wakes up with the instructor alive by his side as they were relaxing on long chairs and promising him more mulled wine. It was all a bad dream, probably induced by mulled wine he drank before.
  • Literal Cliffhanger: Bernard and Jérôme slip when they are climbing a rock. They are hanging above a chasm. Popeye is holding them with a rope.
  • Masochist's Meal: Gigi, Nathalie, Jean-Claude and Gilbert are given shelter by villagers in the mountain. Said villagers generously offer them a local meal, the fougne, which is made of cheese leftovers, methanol and rind, all left macerating for months (and even years). Oh, and... there're maggots too, so "there's some meat in it." Gigi bites a bit and finds it "delicious" but her face says the contrary... and Gilbert genuinely likes it. An alpine recipe like that using cheese leftovers does exist, but nowhere near as disgusting.
  • Nouveau Riche: Bernard Morin (Gérard Jugnot) is an obnoxious everyman who won big at the lottery.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: When Bernard realizes that they are lost in the mountain, he delivers such a speech to Popeye, the guide.
  • Right Through the Wall: In the mountain hut, the protagonists cannot sleep because Italians are very noisy when they have sex in the other room.
  • Serious Business: The pancake restaurant in which Gigi works as a waitress does NOT serve simple pancakes with sugar.
  • Ski-Resort Episode: The cast of the first film returns and goes to a ski resort in the French Alps.
  • Stuck on a Ski Lift: In one other memorable scene, Jean-Claude thinks the ski lift he's on has just stopped because of an accident (while it's actually closing time, and he was the last person to take the ski lift, and the ski lift operator didn't notice him) and tries to pass the time by whistling then singing. By the time he finally decides to jump off, night has fallen.
  • Tamer and Chaster: Compared to the first movie, the sequel is rather wholesome and relies a lot less on sexual humor and nudity, making it much more child-friendly.
  • Workplace-Acquired Abilities: Jérôme is a doctor, so he can treat Nathalie when her arm is dislocated during the ski outing.

    French Fried Vacation 3

  • Boob-Based Gag: Gigi had a breast-augmentation surgery and now has very big breasts, which surprises her old friends.
  • Call-Back: Jean-Claude's jetski breaks down and he is stuck in the middle of the sea. This is a reference to a similar situation in French Fried Vacation 2, where he is stuck on a skilift. Lampshaded by the character who says "Oh, No... Not Again!"
  • Character Aged with the Actor: 26 years have past since the last film, and the protagonists have all aged accordingly along with their actors.
  • Coming-Out Story: Benjamin, the son of Bernard and Nathalie, decides to tell the truth to his parents about his sexual preferences one day... in the middle of a dinner with their friends from the previous vacations.
  • Double Take: Jérôme does a big double-take upon seeing Gigi's new boobs.
  • Fake Boobs: Gigi returns with very big breast implants.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Nathalie starts the vacation swearing off alcohol, but the moment her son arrives, knowing he's going to do his coming-out to his father, she orders a vodka (and keeps the bottle).
  • Tag Line: The tag line on the French poster says "Les mêmes... en pire" ("The same ones... only worse").

Alternative Title(s): Les Bronzes, Les Bronzes Font Du Ski