Gauls appalled at Hollywood villains

France sneers at latest 'Oceans,' 'Die Hard'

They’ve seen Vincent Cassel bested by George Clooney and company — twice — in “Ocean’s Twelve” and “Thirteen.” They’ve watched Bruce Willis blow up French baddies in “Live Free and Die Hard.” And many may even have had a few laughs despite themselves at Sacha Baron Cohen as a pompous, nasty (and gay) “Formule Une” driver in “Talladega Nights.”

But the French media has had enough of their countrymen being Hollywood’s latest villains from the wrong side of the pond — a role so long held by Brits.

And, naturellement, many see the Franco-American political climate as the root of it all.

Le Monde recently reminisced wistfully at the long-gone days when the French “were hailed as nonchalant, heroic Resistance fighters … before Hollywood cast a caustic eye on the venal Chirac and his band of capitulators.”

Left-wing daily Liberation was shocked and awed that the “Die Hard 4” terrorists could “speak the language of Moliere, which to the imperialist Yankee ear sounds the same as the voice of a Nazi or a Paki.” Gaul-bashing is also risk-free, in Liberation’s eyes: “Italian-Americans or Chinese-Americans are communities. Others, such as the Arab lobby, are more vigilant.”

For Paris Match, the typical Frenchman a la Tinseltown in this era of freedom fries is “a smoker, not very clean, vain, craven and unreliable. He has come to embody the depraved morals of ‘Old Europe’ as evoked by Bush. … Each of his defeats displays American superiority.”

All of which naturally begets the age-old question of whether French scribes need a collective chill pill.

But Julie Delpy seems to have been generally given a pass as writer-director of “2 Days in Paris,” perhaps due largely to her ability to deftly and charmingly play off French and American stereotypes. After all, could onscreen beau Adam Goldberg ever hope to get away with a line like, “France is a Muslim country” if he hadn’t already established his impeccable anti-Bush cred by misdirecting a bunch of pro-Dubya tourists?

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