10 FRENCH COMEDY FILMS YOU MUST SEE

French comedy films collage I love French cinema, especially comedy films. French comedies have a particular humor, usually making emphasis on social or racial differences. Many times they are irreverent, unsettling and “politically incorrect”… These characteristics in my opinion reflect Frenchs’ culture and character, hence the difference with american comedies… These are 10 of my favourite French comedies, that will make you laugh, smile, think and occasionally cry…

1. INTOUCHABLES (THE INTOUCHABLES), 2011

French comedies Intouchables posterThe plot: Philippe is a quadriplegic millionaire who lives In Paris, and is interviewing candidates for the position of his carer. When he hires Driss, an African man, his boring life changes forever…

Go see it, because…The movie is actually a true story, based on the book A second wind written by Philippe Pozzo di Borgo (his real name). It’s a wonderful film, touching and funny at the same time. It’s about love, friendship and tolerance… Sy and Cluzet’s performances are just memorable…

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2. LE FABULEUX DESTIN D’ AMELIE POULAIN (AMELIE), 2001

French comedies Amelie posterThe plot: Amelie, a daydreamer waitress living in Paris, decides to anonymously help people being happy. By doing so, she discovers love and happiness herself.

Go see it, because… Amelie is original, romantic, heart-warming, showing that there is love and magic everywhere, even in simple things of life… Besides the excellent photography and the superb acting of Audrey Tautou, the magnificent music by Yann Tiersen adds up to make this movie a true gem…

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3. BIENVENUE CHEZ LES CH’TIS (WELCOME TO THE STICKS), 2008

French comedies Bienvenue Chez les Ch'tisThe plot: Philippe, a post office administrator living in the French south, is banished to the Far North of France, that he believes is a dreadful and cold place, with heavy-drinking people who speak an incomprehensible dialect called Ch’ti…Soon though he realises that things are actually not that bad…

Go see it, because…Bievenue chez les Ch’tis is France’s highest grossing film of all times. It’s a comedy about love and friendship, giving the message to avoid making assumptions or having preconceptions about people… It may lose some of the jokes when translated, so if possible, see it in French…

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4. QU’ EST-CE QU’ON A FAIT AU BON DIEU? (SERIAL (BAD) WEDDINGS), 2014

French comedies Qu'est-ce_qu'on_a_fait_au_bon_dieu?_posterThe plot: A catholic, bourgeois French couple has four daughters, the three older being married to a Muslim Arab, a Shepardi Jew, and a Chinese. Having a hard time to accept the new members of the family, their hopes are set on their younger daughter…

Go see it, because… This controversial film was a great box-office success in France, but it was not released in the USA and UK because it was considered “too racist and politically incorrect”. True, it is at times too cliché and eventually unsettling… But it’s hilarious, with great acting (Christian Clavier is superb), making fun of everybody, no race or religion is left outside… Go see it, provided that you don’t feel uneasy with religious or racial jokes…

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5. LA FAMILLE BELIER (THE BELIER FAMILY), 2014

French comedies La Famille BelierThe plot: Paula Bélier is the daughter of Gigi and Rodolphe and has a brother called Quentin. Her parents and brother are deaf, and rely on Paula as their contact to the rest of the world. When her music teacher discovers that she has a gift for singing -which obviously her family cannot understand- she faces the dilemma whether to stay with her family or follow her dreams…

Go see it, because… This feel-good, touching film will make you laugh, but also shed some tears… Besides the great acting (all the actors learnt sign language for the movie) and clever dialogues, the movie deals with the issue of leaving our family, which certainly touched me on a personal level…Louane Emera (Paula) became known in France after her participation in a reality show, The Voice, and with this film she won a Cesar for Most Promising Actress.

IMDB link

6. LE PRENOM (WHAT’S IN A NAME?), 2012

French comedies Le PrenomThe plot: Vincent is about to become a father, and he is invited for dinner by his sister and his brother-in-law; there he also finds a childhood friend. When he reveals the name they chose for their unborn son, his response provokes a discussion that eventually gets out of hands.

Go see it, because…This film is actually an adaptation from a theatrical play; it has great performances and very intelligent dialogues. There are many similarities with Carnage by Roman Polansky, a film I also enjoyed very much.

IMDB link

7. L’ARNACOEUR (HEARTBRAKER), 2010

French comedies L ArnacoeurThe plot: Alex and his sister run a business designed to break up relationships. He is hired by Juliette’s father to prevent her from marrying an English millionaire. But Alex has only one week to seduce Juliette…

Go see it, because… This is a funny, smart, witty and romantic film. Roman Duris and Vanessa Paradis have great chemistry, and the Montecarlo settings make it even more enjoyable…

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The following 3 movies are much older, but classical, must-see, timeless French comedies:

8. LES VISITEURS (THE VISITORS), 1993

French comedies Les visiteurs posterThe plot: A medieval knight and his servant, who were supposed to travel to the past to correct a fatal error, are accidentally transported to modern times by an old sorcerer. While trying to find a way to return home, they must cope with the cultural and technological differences between medieval and modern times…

Go see it, because…The plot is extremely original, just imagine what can happen when men living in the medieval times see “horseless chariots” (cars) and many other modern inventions… Les Visiteurs was a huge box office success in France. Reno and Clavier reprised their roles in the sequels Les couloirs du temps: Les visiteurs II and Les Visiteurs 3: La révolution. An American remake, Just Visiting, was made in 2001.

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9. LA GRANDE VADROUILLE (DON’T LOOK NOW… WE’RE BEING SHOT AT!, a.k.a. THE GREAT PROMENADE), 1966

French comediesLa_Grande_Vadrouille_posterThe plot: During World War II, two French civilians and a downed British Bomber crew leave from Paris to cross the demarcation line between Nazi-occupied Northern France and the South, in order to escape to England. For that, they must avoid German troops – and the consequences of their own gaffes.

Go see it, because: La Grande Vadrouille was the most successful film in France for more than 30 years, only surpassed lately by Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis and Intouchables. The dialogues are hilarious, it dares to make fun of anyone: British, French, and mostly Germans… Louis the Funes, with no doubt, is one of the greatest comedians of all times…

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10. LES VACANCES DE MONSIEUR HULOT (MR. HULOT’S HOLIDAY), 1953

French comdies Les_vacances_de_monsieur_HulotThe plot: Monsieur Hulot goes on holidays to a seaside resort in Brittany. Although his intentions are good, accidents and misunderstandings follow him wherever he goes, affecting the peace and quietness of the hotel guests…

Go see it, because… Jacques Tatin’s Hulot has become an all-time classic. He reminds us of Charles Chaplin, but also of Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson has admitted that Mr. Hulot influenced Mr. Bean’s character)… This film, with very few dialogues, manages to satirize France’s middle class and “the comical nature of humanity when interacting as a group”.

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29 thoughts on “10 FRENCH COMEDY FILMS YOU MUST SEE

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  6. As a kid I once saw a French comedy movie about ancient Arab and Jewish kingdoms at war with each other. Would you happen to know the name? I’m really trying to look for it for so long but am unable to find.

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      • I meant to mention (you can see how well my thought processes work, since I’m responding a year and a half later 🙂 ), but I love “La Doubleur” (The Valet), which is a Francis Veber film. I also liked “Le Placard” (The Closet), if only for Gerard Depardieu’s part.

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      • Hi TEC4, thank you very much for your comment. I have seen “La Doublure”, it was very funny! I like very much Gad Elmaleh, and of course Daniel Auteuil! I have seen “Le Placard” long time ago, but I don’t remember it very well… I’ll keep it in mind to watch it again 🙂

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  9. Certains des films cités ne sont pas aimés par les français, cette liste ne donne pas les meilleures comédies française.
    L’humour français est basé sur les dialogues qui sont soit intraduisibles, soit ne peuvent être compris que par des personnes connaissant très bien la vie sociale française. Par exemple, des mots et des phrases sont dites par des personnages qui, dans la vie habituelle, ne les diraient jamais.
    Les films “Les tontons flingueurs” ou “Le père Noël est une ordure” sont incompréhensibles par les non francophones car les situations et les dialogues n’ont aucun équivalent dans d’autres langues et vie sociale d’autres pays.

    Some of the films cited are not liked by the French, this list does not give the best French comedies.
    French humor is based on dialogues that are either untranslatable or can only be understood by people who are very familiar with French social life. For example, words and phrases are said by characters who, in everyday life, would never say them.
    The films “Tontons flingueurs” or “Le père Noël est une ordure” are incomprehensible to non-francophones because situations and dialogues have no equivalent in other languages and social life of other countries.

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    • Hi there, thank you very much for your comment, and sorry for the delay in answering… In fact, this list is MY personal ranking of French comedies, which of course may not agree with other people’s choices. Certainly there are many other, good comedy films that come to my mind…
      Nevertheless, I would not agree with your statement that “…Some of the films cited are not liked by the French, this list does not give the best French comedies”. Indeed, most of the films are all-time classics, many of them are among the highest-grossing films in France…
      I totally agree with you that French humor is unique and may not be understood by everyone or may not be of everybody’s taste. It’s certainly NOT politically correct -as opposed to most American comedies- and some people may find it even offensive…
      Actually, I loved “Le Pere Noel est une ordure” and I have included it in another post “12 Unconventional Christmas films you should watch these holidays”. https://wp.me/p508D7-1kT

      Salut, merci beaucoup pour votre commentaire, et désolé pour ma réponse tardive… Cette liste est MON classement personnel des comédies françaises, qui bien sûr peut ne pas être en accord avec les choix des autres. Certes, il y a beaucoup d’autres bons films de comédie qui me traversent l’esprit …
      Néanmoins, je ne suis pas d’accord avec votre commentaire”… Certains des films cités ne sont pas aimés par les français, cette liste ne donne pas les meilleures comédies française”. En effet, la plupart des films sont des grands classiques et beaucoup parmi eux font partie de la liste des plus gros succès du box-office en France…
      Je suis totalement d’accord avec vous que l’humour français est unique et sa subtilité peut ne pas être compris par tout le monde, ou ne pas plaire a tout le monde. C’est aussi certain qu’il n’est “politiquement correct” – contrairement aux comédies américaines – et certaines personnes peuvent le trouver même offensant …
      En fait, j’ai adoré “Le Père Noël est une ordure” et je l’ai inclus dans un autre post “12 Unconventional Christmas films you should watch these holidays”. https://wp.me/p508D7-1kT

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  10. Yes, this is true ! There are some films in common in our lists. Maybe more, when I’ll post my 15 French films suggestions (films shot before 1990) ! Thank you for your great article ! A bientôt. (and thank you for visiting my blog and for your comment) Ann Jeanne

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