Starring: Christian Clavier, Chantal Lauby, Élodie Fontan
Director: Philippe de Chauveron
Running Time: 97 mins
Serial (Bad) Weddings (Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au Bon Dieu?) is a French film about a conservative Catholic couple whose lives are turned upside down as they see each of their daughters marrying men of different religions and ethnicities.
On the one hand a film with a topical and very relatable central theme, on the other an immensely funny comedy, Serial (Bad) Weddings was an absolutel riot from start to finish. Taking on an occasionally controversial and often sensitive subject matter about racism, multiculturalism and the generation gap, the film proves a fascinating and pitch-perfect look into the debates surrounding all of those issues and more, yet with the added bonus of a whole host of brilliant performances, and consistently hilarious comedy from beginning to end.
There’s quite a lot to talk about with this movie, but I think the best place to start out is by looking at its main themes. With a conservative man and woman at the centre, there comes an immense clash of generations and ideologies as they see their four daughters marry four men of backgrounds completely alien to their own traditional expectations.
In that, the film delves into the ever-hot topics of multiculturalism and racism, and proves a riveting and insightful balancing act as it shows the perspective of those that are often derided as dinosaurish for their views. What’s fascinating about the movie is that, while it rightly picks up on where racism and prejudice go too far, it never goes overboard with its criticism, and instead gives an excellent balance between its pitch-perfect political discourse and making those characters still as likable and human as any other, something that I really appreciated.
The topics are something that everybody is affected by on a daily basis, so the issues that the film raises are hugely relatable and fascinating to watch portrayed on screen. Of course, it is a comedy, and there’s a simpler, more relaxed side to affairs as well, but as far as offering up a genuinely engrossing and relevant take on contemporary society, I was hugely impressed by this movie.
On the flipside, as interesting a social commentary as the film surprisingly proves, it’s just as hilarious a comedy from beginning to end. Filled to the brim with jokes that range from simple, silly slapstick to proper satire, I was laughing right the way through here, thanks to the fresh and very genuine nature of the comedy.
Because, while it does have moments of pleasantly silly slapstick here and there, the film hits a perfect balance when it comes to using jokes about racism, making them both funny and still relevant and important for that central theme.
People have criticised the movie for playing up racist stereotypes, but in my view, it’s a film that uses such stereotypes to flip back on those who use them, and while it has pokes a bit of harmless fun at a range of cultures and people, including the French themselves, the main purpose of the humour is to put these stereotypes into a ridiculous context, and thereby downplay the malicious effect that some may intend them to have.
As a result, the film is very close to the bone when it comes to its satirical humour, but for me, it hits a brilliant sweet spot that makes the comedy both absolutely hilarious as well as genuinely valuable for the development of its main theme, something I can’t say we see often from mainstream comedies like this too often at all.
In the end, then, I had a huge amount of fun with Serial (Bad) Weddings. With the exception of its admittedly terrible English title, it’s a smart and interesting film with a very relevant and well-tempered social commentary, furthered by brilliantly written humour throughout that hits close to home, but still proves silly and funny enough to make you laugh throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it an 8.0 overall.