Film: The Chateau


Cast includes: Paul Rudd (I Love You, Man), Romany Malco (The 40 Year Old Virgin), Sylvie Testud (La Vie en Rose)
Director: Jesse Peretz (The Ex)
Genre: Comedy (2001)

In brief: “Ask me what I’m gonna do when I get to France,” Graham says to Alan. Alan is numb to Graham’s inane patter. “What are you gonna do when you get to France, Graham?” “A little sunnin, lovin, turtle dovin…” Graham is totally smitten with France. “In the letter, it says the chateau is ours,” he says to Alan… who now wants to be called Rex. “Any time I’ve ever gotten anything for free, there’s always some kind of catch,” Rex says. As the train zips along, Graham babbles on. In the meantime, Rex is working… he’s a businessman with a company specializing in “dick” products. It soon becomes clear that these brothers have nothing in common… except that they’ve inherited a chateau in France from an uncle they’ve never heard of.

“I can’t believe we inherited a chateau with a mote,” Graham says as the taxi pulls up. Once inside, Graham attempts to make the introduction in very brutalized French. “Just drop the fucking French,” Alan snaps. “You are brothers?” Jean the butler asks. “Are you kidding me?” You see, Graham is white and Alan is black. “He’s adopted,” Graham mouths the words. Up in their rooms, Graham is still yammering on about how wonderful the chateau is. Alan is losing patience. “It all sounds good and shit, but we’re selling it,” Alan says. “Don’t you feel there’s something magical about it?” “This place is a dump!” And that’s Alan’s last word on it.

Jean thinks the brothers are here to save the chateau and all the servants. “The roof, the electricity, the unpaid bills…” Jean has a long list. So naturally Jean and the others aren’t happy to learn the brothers are selling it. Each time Graham attempts to play peacemaker, he only seems to make things worse. As things go from bad to worse, the film gets funnier and funnier. Developed in an improvised style of filmmaking, the two main characters were chosen for their improvisational chemistry. At times it’s fresh and clever; at times it’s a bit awkward. But on balance, it’s a lot of laughs if you enjoy irreverent humor and/or remember struggling with high school French. While I’ve put this into Popcorn Classics, it’s certainly no great movie. It’s just very funny, and the struggle to bridge language barriers is classic. There’s clearly something fishy going on at the chateau. But is the problem a communication gap? Or is everyone up to something?

popcorn rating

2 popped kernels

It stumbles a bit, but it has a lot of laughs… especially the brutalized French

Popcorn Profile

Rated: R
Primary Audience: Young adults
Gender Appeal: Any audience
Distribution: Mainstream Limited Release  
Mood: Upbeat
Tempo: Cruses comfortably
Visual Style: Unvarnished realism 
Character Development: Engaging 
Language: Rude & crude 
Social Significance: Pure entertainment

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