A widower with three emotionally distant sons schemes to resuscitate some brotherly love and filial piety in “Father and Sons.” Gentle comedy is both sardonic and wholesome, with a just-right central perf from always entertaining vet Philippe Noiret. Helming debut from actor and music hall star Michel Boujenah — one of the bachelors in Coline Serreau’s 1985 smash “Three Men and a Cradle” — should do nicely in French-lingo territories and possibly beyond.
Leo Serano (Noiret), a retired traveling salesman, belatedly decides he’d like to be closer to his children. David (Charles Berling) is an overworked overachiever who runs a large plumbing fixtures firm. He and middle brother Max (Bruno Putzulu) haven’t been on speaking terms for five years, the last three of which Max has been unemployed.
Youngest son, Simon (co-scripter Pascal Elbe, a comic revelation in his first major big-screen role), is a warehouse employee working for David. The mellowest of the trio, Simon smokes dope daily and is blissfully unaware of how much his laid-back persona irritates his higher-strung siblings and exasperated dad.
When Leo collapses and lands in the hospital, his own brother, Joseph (Jacques Boudet), a physician, runs a series of tests, pronounces Leo frighteningly healthy and says he can leave right away. But when David and Max each visit separately, Leo convinces them he’s slated for heart surgery in a few weeks, and would love to take a perhaps final family trip with his boys — to Montreal.
The father and sons take off together from Paris for Montreal. Nothing could be less certain than an eventual unification, but events that emerge en route leading to them seeing a female faith healer in the boondocks (Marie Tifo) are consistently funny.
It’s great fun to be “in” on the scam of Leo’s alleged health problems, while wondering how the boys will react should they discover the enormity of their dad’s lie. Overall, pic registers as far less contrived than it actually is, due to nicely modulated ensemble playing. The jaunty, guitar-based score is pleasant.