It’s sad to see actors of the calibre of Thierry Lhermitte, Josiane Balasko and Maiwenn on screen in a film with as little merit as All Inclusive – the latest comedy from Fabien Onteniente. The director is a master of low-brow comedies which have a huge followinging in France and yet leave most English-speaking audiences cold. His series of Camping films were some of the biggest French box-office hits of the past few years. Perhaps the magic has disappeared as Onteniente here tries hard by reworking the previously winning formula recasting Camping star Frank Dubosc in the lead role, transporting the holiday setting from France to Guadaloupe and yet failing miserably to provide a credible plot, characters or worse still, humour. All Inclusive is uncomfortable to watch with it’s desperately out-of-date comedy centred on a sexually-frustrated older woman (Balasko), an overly-camp hotel manager (Lhermitte) and a stereotyping of the Caribbean Island’s local population which is borderline racist.
In his earlier films, Dubosc exuded a certain cheeky charm which has gradually morphed over the years into something seedier and less attractive. Lhermitte and Balasko were part of the Splendide Théâtre group who were the stars of the cult comedy film, Les Bronzes (French Fried Vacation), back in the 1970s and several sequels. To say All Inclusive is a pale shadow of these successful comedies is an understatement.
Dumped by his girlfriend (Maiwenn) at the airport, Bruno (François-Xavier Demaison) decides to go on holiday alone to a resort on the Island of Guadaloupe. As the hôtel is over booked, he is obliged to share his room with Jean Paul Cisse (Dubosc). He has to pretend the two of them are in a gay relationship or else the room will be given to another holidaymaker. Throw in the vampish Lulu (Balasko) and a trio of young women bent on drunkingly celebrating their friend’s divorce, and the week’s holiday at the Princess Club is more like a bootcamp than a holiday destination.
Crossing boundaries and outright provocation is the rock bed of many a great comedy. There is clearly an appetite for this type of unpolitcally correct comedy film in France as the huge success of the Qu’est qu’on a fait au bon dieu – series of films have demonstrated. But there is a difference between challenging popular modes of thought and being thoughtlessly offensive. And unfortunately All Inclusive falls squarely into the latter category.