Guillaume Daubray-Lacaze (de Funès) is the general manager of a factory that makes air-cleaning products. His wife Bernadette (Girardot) is fond of gardening. Daubray-Lacaze gets a large order from a Japanese company, so he has to extend his factory, but no plot of land is available.
La Zizanie provides examples of:
- Animated Credits Opening: The title sequence is animated.
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: There are several signs that show how Daubray-Lacaze and his wife love each other in spite of their constant quarrels. For example, on election day, Daubray-Lacaze votes for his wife and, in turn, Bernadette votes for him.
- Bittersweet Ending: Guillaume lose both his factory and his re-election but he and Bernadette are now living a peaceful life in Provence as sheepherds.
- Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Bernadette is angry at her husband because of the decisions he makes to extend his factory, so she leaves him several times. In the end, they become reconciled.
- Cigar Chomper: The banker always smokes cigars.
- Covered in Gunge: Happens to the banker when he tries to catch the check.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Dr. Landry is in love with Bernadette. He is nice to her (he brings her horse manure for her garden) and reminds her that he is in love with her. When Bernadette leaves her husband, he tries to win her, but he fails.
- Election Day Episode: Daubray-Lacaze is the mayor. In the end, he is defeated by his wife in elections.
- Escalating Brawl: One happens in the ballroom of the hotel when Daubray-Lacaze is looking for his wife and he finds her dancing with Dr. Landry. The quarrel between Daubray-Lacaze and Dr. Landry escalates and finally involves everybody in the room.
- Foreshadowing: During her wedding anniversary, Bernadette wishes she could move to a farm in Provence. It happens in the end.
- I Own This Town: Daubray-Lacaze is the mayor of the town and the general manager of the factory, so he has a lot of power. When his wife leaves him and goes to the hotel, he asks the hotel to tell her there is no room available and he threatens to frame the hotel manager for disturbance of the peace if he does not obey.
- Married to the Job: Daubray-Lacaze puts his marriage at risk because of his commitment to satisfy his Japanese customers. After signing with them, he extends his factory into his own house and then his wife's gardens, much to her anger. It's in fact his obsession with productivity that provoke the titular "Zizanie".
- Masquerade Ball: There is one in the hotel. Bernadette and Dr. Landry take part in it. Daubray-Lacaze goes there to look for his wife.
- Mean Boss: Guillaume Daubray-Lacaze is unpleasant with his employees: he yells at them and he is very reluctant to sign their paychecks.Secretary: Mr. the Director...
Secretary: You have to sign the cheques.
Daubray-Lacaze: Oh no, I can't , I can't...
Secretary: It's the end of the month.
- Not a Mask: Daubray-Lacaze removes the masks of several people in the masquerade ball because he is looking for his wife. He also tries to remove the mask of a woman, but discovers that it is her actual face.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: During the whole film, Daubray-Lacaze tries extend his factory to satisfy his Japanese customer. In the end, the banker tells that the Japanese check bounced, so the Japanese company is not able to pay for the large order.
- Shrine to Self: There is a shrine to Daubray-Lacaze in his factory, with a portrait of him and a steam locomotive.
- Sleazy Politician: Daubray-Lacaze is the mayor. During a wedding ceremony that he presides at, he forces the newly-weds to swear they will vote for him.
- Sleazy Politician: Daubray-Lacaze is the mayor (allegedly a Liberal Conservative) of a small town who abuses his powers in many ways : coercing newlyweds into voting for him, threatening to close an hotel when he's searching for his wife Bernadette and even tries to bribe Bernadette into abandonning her campaign.Guillaume Daubray-Lacaze: My programm in three points: Firstly, Full Employment; Secondly, Full Employment and Thirdly, Full Employment!
- Uncle Tomfoolery: The black worker of the factory is goofy and incompetent. For example, he accidentally triggers the release of the artificial fog when he shakes his handkerchief.