Less than fourteen years will have passed between the release of the first film directed by Olivier Baroux, Tonight I sleep at your place, and that of his eleventh feature, The Tuche 4. Kad Merad’s eternal accomplice has not been idle, especially since he has written or co-wrote the vast majority of the films he has directed. Moreover, his next achievement, Liar (with Artus and Tarek Boudali), is already in the box.
It must be said that the fourth part of the saga Shower has been ready for more than a year, but that Pathé has taken a radical decision due to the health crisis: cancel the outing scheduled for December 9, 2020 and put away The Tuche 4 in a cardboard box until the following winter – Christmas movie obliges.
Clearly, Olivier Baroux’s films carry with them the urgency in which they were made, a polite way of asserting that they always seem a little sloppy. This gives a filmography whose successes (Safari attracted nearly 2 million people in 2009, Italian exceeded one million admissions in 2010) alternated with disappointments (including the flop of But who killed Pamela Rose again?). In the midst of those films which, whatever their score, will not pass to posterity, there is The Tuche and its consequences, whose trajectory is unexpected to say the least.
Between the Tuche family and the public, we cannot exactly say that there was love at first sight. In early summer 2011, the first installment of what would become a franchise drew 1.5 million viewers: a fairly enviable score, but not a tidal wave. It was at the time of the release of the sequel, captioned The American dream, that something happened: with 4.6 million admissions (triple the previous film), The Tuche 2 hit hard at the box office of the year 2016.
The success of the second part can be explained by a rather rare phenomenon: the word of mouth which surrounded the first film did not take place at the time of its theatrical release, but during the following phase. DVD sales and Sunday television broadcasts made Jeff and Cathy Tuche enter the hearts of some French people, making them want to go and see the second film on the big screen.
From then on, the Tuches have continued to settle in French popular culture. So much so that the third part, entitled Les Tuche 3 – Freedom, equality, fraternituche, met with even greater success when it was released in early 2018, attracting nearly 5.7 million people. We understand that Pathé preferred to ensure the blow by refusing to release volume 4 at the end of 2020, at a time when cinemas were required to respect strict gauges.
At first glance, the success of Shower and its aftermath looks like an anomaly. Their two main performers, Isabelle Nanty and Jean-Paul Rouve, are appreciated but not really bankable. Their achievement is not breathtaking (hello understatement). And their premise – modest people win the Loto – has already been exploited in a bunch of boulevard comedies as well as in a few more or less famous films. We can cite for example the French Golden Boy, with Jacques Villeret and Anne Roumanoff, or the American Billionaire in spite of himself, with Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda.
The key to the franchise’s progressive triumph is its way of finally allowing poor heroes to live a thousand lives and multiply the adventures. If popular cinema, from comedies to romantic films, most often turns to wealthy circles, it is because characters without a budget can neither travel to the other side of the world, nor afford weddings with great pomp. , nor invite their friends to spend the weekend in their second home. Not practical when you want the general public to forget their everyday life for a while.
By saving millions of euros to a family of proletarians who will no longer deny themselves anything, The Tuche is in line with the most famous advertisements of the Française des Jeux, in which the winners allow themselves to send their boss to graze (“Goodbye, goodbye, president”) or to choose their holiday destination at random (“It’s the game, my poor Lucette”). The air of nothing, the film series sends dreams.
Because they do not master the codes of the world of the rich and they are neither willing nor able to learn them, the Tuche do what comes to their mind without ever asking questions. A refreshing break that allows you to forget the difficult ends of the month, at least temporarily, by living by proxy.
Systematic humor, systemic humor
The four films – provisional total – also manage to unite a large audience thanks to a humor accessible to all, from 7 to 107 years old. It is both a quality and a flaw. In The Tuche and its sequels, three well-worn comic mechanisms are used over and over again.
You can make your characters say anything, like a less dazzling rehash of the Kamoulox dear to Kad and Olivier. We can practice the comedy of repetition – even if, on this point, The Tuche 4 makes his self-criticism at the mercy of a drawless streak that is quite funny. Or we can string together rotten word games – the character played by Michel Blanc called Marteau, the authors go wild. And that is enough to make a film of about a hundred minutes.
The problem is that all of these humorous springs draw their source from the very nature of the members of the Tuche family: apart from Donald alias Coin-coin, the gifted younger son, the clan is distinguished by his very small number of neurons. What to wonder if The Tuche would not constitute a peak of class contempt. A difficult question to decide as the saga seems to go in all directions, capable of shamelessly mocking the lack of thoughtfulness of its characters, but also of sincerely criticizing the classism shown by the privileged protagonists who cross the path of the family Tuche.
It seems that, from episode to episode, we can see a form of progress. If it seems complicated to eradicate the eternal floodgates on the poor (the Tuche only eat potatoes in all their forms, beer and Suze flow freely from morning to night …), a certain political conscience gradually gained the Tuchian universe.
In the first part, for example, we could hear Jeff Tuche (Jean-Paul Rouve) affirming without being contradicted that a boy who refuses to play football risks “To become a little queer”. Yes, but at the end of Shower 2, he ended up leading his son Wilfried to the altar so that he could marry another man, after initially welcoming his coming out with hostility. Thereafter, no more homophobic remarks, but a total acceptance of the homosexuality of the young man, which ends up no longer even being a subject.
Before the “yellow vests”
The subject of work remains rather vague, even if it is paved with good intentions. After winning the Loto, Jeff Tuche decided in particular to buy the marbles company of which he was (the worst) employee and to revolutionize the organization of work, by allowing workers to go to the factory only a few hours per week.
The Tuche 4 even presents as a success the record unemployment rate in the town of Bouzolles, where the characters live: the Tuche family’s money is not used to invest in the value of work, but on the contrary to move away from it as much as possible, thus allowing those who wish to also enjoy a delightfully idle life.
The flip side of the coin is that Jeff Tuche is not only described as an opponent of hard work: in the latest installment, he repeatedly explains that he defrauded when he was poor so that he could take it easy. gentle thanks to the allocations without going to the turbine. Taunts about these bastards of the poor who come to mar the anti-capitalist remarks particularly characterizing The Tuche 4 (whose big bad is a company called Magazone, which ships anything and everything from its giant warehouses).
In The Tuche 3Jeff Tuche ran for president and was elected in the wake of the successive disqualifications of all his opponents, which were marred by embarrassing cases – which did not stop François Fillon in 2017. He then became the president. first president of the French Republic at the origin of a general strike, transforming the Elysée Palace into the headquarters of a movement foreshadowing that of the “yellow vests”.
In this third part, the most inspired of the four, the merry mess initiated by the Tuche family within the largest French institutions had enough to galvanize the crowds present in the cinemas. Especially since this hustle and bustle was completely devoid of cynicism, all the protagonists distinguished themselves above all by the purity of their soul and their heart, characteristic of an absolute rarity.
Currently, another duo is triumphing over similar values: the Bodin family, whose first cinematographic adventures (Bodins in Thailand) have come close to the million tickets sold in just a fortnight. There is probably no coincidence: the public dreams of kindness, benevolence and a return to simple things. A crossover between The Tuche and Les Bodin’s would undoubtedly constitute a formidable ticket machine.
The Tuche 4
by Olivier Baroux
with Jean-Paul Rouve, Isabelle Nanty, Michel Blanc, François Berléand, Claire Nadeau
Released: December 8, 2021