A mainstream comedy with heart, “Camping” thumbs its nose at urban sophistication, reveling in the common touch. A microcosm of the “real” France, seen through the jaded eyes of a wealthy Parisian, pic is genuinely funny if not terribly ambitious. Well-liked cast and vacation theme should translate into sunny local returns. Comedy fests should consider staking a claim.
When his James Bond-vintage Aston Martin conks out en route to a luxury vacation in Spain, plastic surgeon to the stars Michel Saint-Josse (Gerard Lanvin) and his teen daughter Vanessa (Armonie Sanders) end up stranded with the provincial regulars at a typical Gallic campground.
Raspy-voiced bon vivant Jacky Pic (Claude Brasseur) and his wife Laurette (Mylene Demongeot) have spent August in camping spot number 17 for 30 years; but this year a Dutch couple got there first. Bitter and vindictive sulking ensues.
Pixie-faced stand-up comic Franck Dubosc steals the show as Patrick Chirac, an inveterate womanizer-cum-nice-guy from Dijon who got laid off from his job in mustard. He generously shares his tent and canned goods with Michel and Vanessa.
Women ask divorced and dour Michel (“Unhappiness is within the reach of everyone”) for professional opinions about augmenting their breasts, and Vanessa finds the dorky camp setting more to her liking than five-star hotels. Little dramas percolate, as the car takes longer to repair than expected.
Ensemble cast is great fun, with Mathilde Seigner a standout as a mother of two whose husband’s (Antoine Dulery) brief adultery comes to light with amusing repercussions.