French Fried Vacation (Les Bronzés in French, literally translated as "The tanned ones") is a cult 1978 French vacation comedy film directed by Patrice Leconte. It spawned a trilogy.
The 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 Josiane Balasko, Michel Blanc, Marie-Anne Chazel, Gérard Jugnot, 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. The film has achieved cult status in France, where it sold 2.2 million tickets during its initial theatrical release.
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 French winter sports resort in the Alps. While it attracted less people in theaters (1.5 million tickets sold), its popularity managed to surpass that of the first film, due to its memorable slapstick gags and constant reruns on French TV. 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.
This film series provides examples of the following tropes:
- Anything That Moves: The main reason behind the holidays (for the male protagonists anyway): seducing as many women as possible and having as much sex as possible.
- Body Paint: One of the activities at the vacation camp. Bernard really sucks at it.
- The Film of the Play: The film is an adaptation of the play Amours, Coquillages et Crustacés.
- Garden Garment: Jean-Claude does a variant with seaweed 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.
- Naked People Are Funny: The Garden Garment gag mentioned above.
- Really Gets Around: Jérôme and Popeye are pretty promiscuous and can't stop talking about sex.
- Speak in Unison: When the two German women leave the protagonists during a party on the beach. 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.")
- Your Cheating Heart: Bernard and Nathalie cheat on each other as a form of competition, with each other perfectly knowing it.
- Bad Dreams: 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 besides him as they were relaxing on long chairs. It was all a bad dream.
- 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.
- Catchphrase: Jean-Claude's ski instructor cannot stop making a point about "planting the ski pole".
- Clingy Costume: Nathalie's feet gets stuck in her ski shoes thanks to a goofup by Popeye and she finds herself forced to sleep with them.
- Gargle Blaster: An iconic scene inspired from a similar one in a theatre play by the Splendid, Le Père Noël est une ordure (Santa Claus Is a Stinker). 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hello, Nurse!: Gigi got a breast augmentation, and it triggers nothing but this.
- Tag Line: The tag line on the French poster says "Les mêmes... en pire" ("The same ones... only worse").