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Film / The Three Brothers

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Cent patates... Je vais avoir cent patates !!! (Two bricks... I'll get two bricks!!!)note 

The Three Brothers (Les Trois Frères) is a 1995 French comedy film directed by Didier Bourdon and Bernard Campan and starring Didier Bourdon, Bernard Campan and Pascal Légitimus, known collectively as Les Inconnus.

Didier, Bernard and Pascal were born to an unknown father and their mother abandoned them. Each of them has followed different paths: Didier is a security guard in a supermarket, Bernard is homeless and Pascal is a manager in a communication agency. The three half-brothers meet each other for the first time when their mother dies and the notary informs them that they will inherit her fortune.

A Sequel, Les Trois Frères, le retour (English: The Three Brothers are back) was made in 2014.


The Three Brothers provides examples of:

  • The '90s: With a Super Nintendo, a Game Boy, Pascal's laptop... you know for sure in which decade you are, and in which it was filmed.
  • Asshole Victim: The notary and the debt collector who Didier and Bernard assault.
  • Chewbacca Defense: During the final trial, Didier, Bernard and Pascal make points that have nothing to do with the case. For example, Bernard repeats his sales spiel about the stain remover, and Pascal makes a speech about discrimination against black people.
  • Clear My Name: Didier, Bernard and Pascal are wrongly accused of kidnapping Michaël (technically they did kidnap him, but it's more as a result of being on the run, and not out of any malice). At the same time, they are justly accused of several minor offences.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: When the three brothers pretend that they want to buy a TV, the sales assistant turns on the TV and there is a news bulletin about Michaël's kidnapping. The three brothers have to run away.
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  • Comic Trio: Didier is the navigator (he brings Michaël to Pascal's flat, he starts assaulting the notary and the debt collector...), Bernard is the driver (he follows Didier's decisions without questioning them) and Pascal is the complainer (he criticizes the actions of the other two, but he is unable to stop them).
  • Con Man: The three brothers engage in several short cons to get food, drinks and cigarettes for free (like pretending to have won the lottery or pretending that Michaël is choking on the pit of a fruit in a restaurant).
  • Courtroom Antic: Played for Laughs during the final trial.
  • Disappeared Dad: Michaël grew up without knowing his father. The three brothers do not know their father either.
  • Disguised in Drag:
    • Michaël has to disguise himself as a girl because the three brothers are afraid someone could recognize him and call the police.
    • During the TV show, Bernard disguises himself as a woman to impersonate Pascal's wife.
  • Distinguishing Mark: The three brothers and Michaël have a distinctive birthmark on the buttock.
  • Electrified Bathtub: The debt collector who comes at Pascal's flat ends up victim of this as a result of getting pushed around and insulted by the trio. He slips, crashes into the bathroom and grabs a plugged-on hair dryer in his fall. He ends up in the (filled) bathtub and gets electrocuted. Fortunately for the three brothers, he doesn't die of it.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Bernard tries to sell a stain remover on a market. Pascal gets to the office and says hello to his colleagues and boss. Didier is observing a woman inside a fitting room thanks to a security camera when his future father-in-law turns up.
  • Evil Debt Collector: The one who comes at Pascal's flat to seize his goods is very unpleasant.
  • A Fool for a Client: Didier, Bernard and Pascal defend themselves during the final trial.
  • Good Samaritan: Marie helps the three brothers when Michaël is sick, even though she knows the police looks for them.
  • Gratuitous English: Pascal and his colleagues use a lot of English words.
    T'as l'air en super good forme ! (You seem to be in very good shape!)
    Thanks !
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The three brothers are jerkasses (Bernard is a scrounger, Didier is a voyeur and Pascal is a snob), but they all really care about Michaël.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Both Didier and his son Michaël grew up without knowing their father.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Didier discovers that Michaël is actually his son. This is confirmed by Michaël's birthmark.
  • Never Win the Lottery:
    • In the bar, Bernard pretends he has a winning ticket to get away without paying anything. The ticket is actually a loser.
    • Subverted in the end: Michaël finds a real winning ticket. Double subverted because the winning ticket only gives the opportunity to participate in a TV show. During this show, Didier only wins the lowest amount: 100,000 French francs ($17,000).
  • On One Condition: Didier, Bernard and Pascal can get the inheritance only if they claim it within two years after their mother's death.
  • Parental Abandonment: The three brothers' background. Their fathers are unknown and their mother abandoned them.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Didier, Bernard and Pascal meet because their mother has died. Their meeting and the soon lost inheritance trigger the events of the plot.
  • Riches to Rags: Pascal was wealthy and he loses everything in the course of the film, to the point of living like a tramp. Didier was less well-off, but he also loses everything he had.
  • Separated at Birth: Didier, Bernard and Pascal are three half-brothers who were abandoned by their mother at birth and raised in orphanages. They only meet each other when their mother dies.
  • Shoutout: At Marie's home, the three brothers read The Little Prince to Michaël.
  • Sibling Team: The three brothers (actually half-brothers) decide to go together to Nice to bring Michaël to his mother, they take care of him and they commit together several offences to get food, drinks, cigarettes and video consoles.
  • Sink-or-Swim Fatherhood: The three brothers have to take care of Michaël without any prior experience of fatherhood.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: Pascal is a wealthy manager. He lives in a big flat, he is interested in contemporary art, he likes eating sushi... His half-brother Bernard is homeless and he start living in his flat. Later, his second half-brother Didier, a security guard, becomes homeless too and he also settles down in his flat. Living together will turn out to be difficult.
  • Starving Artist: Bernard is a would-be actor, but he is homeless.
  • Surprise Witness: During the final trial, Michaël, Didier's son, shows up to prove that Didier is his father.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: Didier, Bernard and Pascal did not know their mother and they did not know that she owned a vast fortune.
  • Waiting for a Break: Bernard tries to become an actor, but he works as a stallhorder.
  • World of Jerkass: The main characters are a freeloading would-be actor, a voyeur hypocrite security guard and an upstart snobbish yuppie. Other characters include a self-centered kid who demands the latest video consoles, a mother who leaves her 7-year-old kid alone for several days, a racist middle-aged man, an unpleasant debt collector, a contemptuous notary, a corrupt and manipulative company executive...
  • Your Television Hates You: After the debt collector ends up victim of Electrified Bathtub, the trio switches their car's radio on as they drive away... and singer Claude François (who died of this in 1978) gets mentioned on it right away.

The Three Brothers are back provides examples of:

  • Amoral Attorney: Maître Vaselin, the lawyer who forces the brothers to sign an acknowledgement of debt.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: When Bernard impersonate Michaël's mother, Dany finds him very attractive, to the point that he assaults him.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Sarah is insolent and selfish. She is also involved in drug trafficking. Her attitude is somewhat justified by the behavior of her totally irresponsible father.
  • Call-Back:
    • Once again, the three brothers are called together because of the succession of their mother, their fragile social situation soon collapses and they are forced to live together.
    • Didier and Bernard take drugs, like in the first film.
    • Michaël, Didier's son, is now in a similar situation to the one of his father in the first film: he tries to please his future father-in-law, who is a racist prick.
    • During the end credits, it is revealed that Sarah has the same Distinguishing Mark as the three brothers, so she must be the daughter of one of them.
  • Continuity Nod: When Michaël explains that his future father-in-law makes a lot of money, Didier repeats his iconic line from the first film: "Cent patates..."
  • Disguised in Drag: Bernard dresses up as a woman to impersonate Michaël's mother.
  • Distant Sequel: The story is set years after the events of the first film: Michaël was a kid in the first film. Now he is 23. Bernard has now a teenage daughter.
  • Doesn't Know Their Own Child: Exaggerated. Bernard hesitates about his daughter's name. Didier does not know that his son is of age, whereas he is 23.
  • Fictional Counterpart: The bank NIC is a transparent copy of real-life bank CIC (the logo is the same).
  • Gang Bangers: Modeglue, Sarah's ex-boyfriend, is a violent drug dealer. He is the leader of a gang.
  • Generation Xerox: Like his father in the first film, Michaël tries to please his racist future father-in-law.
  • Gold Digger:
    • Pascal is in a relationship with Moss and he tries to persuade her to marry him because she is very rich and so he can live comfortably and do nothing.
    • Didier's mother-in-law is also rich and he married Viviane primarily because he hopes to inherit her fortune.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Bernard thinks that he is Sarah's father. Then Sarah's mother says that she was already pregnant when she met the three brothers, so the real father is someone else. During the end credits, it is revealed that Sarah has the same Distinguishing Mark as the three brothers, so she must be the daughter of one of them.
  • Meaningful Name: The name of the lawyer, Vaselin, is obviously related to Vaseline. His company is named Shark & Co. There is also a bank called NIC (niquer means "to screw" in French).
  • Mrs. Robinson: Moss, Pascal's girlfriend, is much older than him. As soon as she dumps him, she starts dating another young black man.
  • Paid-for Family: Michaël planned to pay actors to impersonate his parents. The actors ran away with the pay before playing their role.
  • Parental Neglect:
    • Bernard does not care much about his daughter Sarah. It seems that he has met her very rarely up to now.
    • Didier does not care much about his son Michaël. He lives away from him and meets him rarely. Michaël also says that his mother does not care more about him.
  • Right Behind Me: Pascal tells Bernard and Didier how horrible his relationship with Moss is. Moss is just behind him and hears everything.
  • Right in Front of Me: At the party at Moss's, Bernard tells three random guys that a TV show is crap. One of the guys immediately goes away. Another one tells Bernard that this was the host of the TV show. Bernard then explains that he did not want to critize the host and that the real stupid people are the bosses of the TV channel. He second guy suddenly goes away: he was the boss of the channel.
  • Sibling Triangle: Both Didier and Pascal were in love with Sabrina. Finally, they discover that Bernard had a relationship with her too.
  • Signs of Disrepair: In Pascal's bank, there is a poster that says "Chez nous vraiment, le client est dans un cocon" ("With us, really, the customer is in a cocoon"). When the employee is sitting just in front of the poster, she hides some letters and the poster says "Chez nous vraiment, le client est un con" ("With us, really, the customer is a bloody idiot"). In Didier's bank, there is a poster that says "Ici, on vous communique les taux 24h/24" ("Here we pass on the rates to you 24 hours a day"). When the employee is sitting just in front of the poster, he hides some letters and the poster says "Ici, on vous nique 24h/24" ("Here, we screw you 24 hours a day").
  • Take That!: The guy who rents trailers says that Gérard Depardieu's trailer is full of liquor bottles. Then, the three brothers have to use the trailer of Mimie Mathy (the main actress of Joséphine, ange gardien), where everything is small and pink.
  • Tempting Fate: When the three brothers have to sleep together in a trailer, one of them says that he cannot image how the situation could get worse. Just as he says that, Sarah knocks on the trailer's door and brings more problems.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: Inverted. The three brothers thought that the succession of their mother was settled, but they are surprised to hear that they actually have to pay an extra amount.
  • World of Jerkass: Many other unpleasant characters are introduced: an Amoral Attorney, an insolent and selfish teenager, Gang Bangers, a racist millionaire...

Alternative Title(s): Les Trois Freres


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