Back in January, I told you about the popular French film, “Intouchables.” The film, which broke box office records across the country and was hailed by the French press, follows a black man from the projects in Paris who gets a job taking care of a rich, white quadriplegic.

The film was widely praised across the county, and France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy loved it so much he invited the cast to the dinner at Elysee Palace.

While French audiences and critics ate it up, American critics found the film quite problematic.

Devorah Lauter of the LA Times wrote:

Yet even as the Cinderella story has audiences applauding, a few critics scolded its unrealistic take on the struggles of France’s poor, as well as its “easy stereotypes” of minorities, shown through the fun-loving hero, Driss. Driss is of Senegalese origin, and with his charming wit — but also unabashed ignorance of fine French foods, art and music — he livens up the stuffy world of his wealthy counterpart, Philippe.

“This film dates to the 1930s, when it was thought the black man has no culture and spends his time laughing at everything,” philosopher Jean-Jacques Delfour said after reviewing the film for the French daily Liberation.

And Jay Weissberg of Variety had a hasher critique, taking the film to task for pandering to stereotypes:

He writes:

Driss [the main character] is treated as nothing but a performing monkey (with all the racist associations of such a term), teaching the stuck-up white folk how to get “down” by replacing Vivaldi with “Boogie Wonderland” and showing off his moves on the dance floor. It’s painful to see Sy, a joyfully charismatic performer, in a role barely removed from the jolly house slave of yore, entertaining the master while embodying all the usual stereotypes about class and race.

The nadir comes when Driss dons a suit and Magalie tells him he looks like President Obama, as if the only black man in a suit could be the president; what’s so distressing is that the writers mean for the line to be tender and funny. (For the record, Sy and Obama look nothing alike.)

But because Hollywood loves a good hit and an opportunity to make money, they are remaking ‘Intouchables’ for an American audience.

According to Variety, ‘Bridesmaids’ director Paul Feig is in early talks to write and direct an American remake of ‘Intouchables.” Apparently, Colin Firth is already in the running to star in the film, but I wonder who will be cast in the other leading role of Driss, the Senegalese man tasked with taking care of his wealthy boss.

While there is no script just yet, I hope this remake–which is based on a true-story–isn’t filled with easy, cliched stereotypes of a black man from the ‘hood experiencing culture shock in the rich, white world. What I hope is conveyed, however, is the genuine feeling of the friendship of the two men. But I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Check out a English-subtitled version of the ‘Intouchables’ trailer via Shadow & Act. Who do you think should play the role of Driss?

  • Santana

    it looks like Driving Miss Daisy meets a bromance. the clip looks hilarious, if uncomfortable.

    the black actor is GORGEOUS!!!!

  • Bree

    A remake sounds horrible. They should just bring the film to the US with subtitles. I love foreign films. It looked cute from the trailer. It actually made me smile a bit.

  • Tonton Michel

    Magic Negro French style.

  • EbonyLolita

    Ummmm don’t we already have a version of this. What was that movie w/Queen Latifah & Steve Martin?
    @Tonton DWL @Magical Negro! But you’re right though. What I hope is that no Black/AA actor takes this type of role. Lawd Jesus every opportunity isn’t a GOOD opportunity. As Blacks we need to stop breathing Life into dead situations.

  • http://beyondblackwhite.com/ Jamila

    Why were the black guy’s lips “extra” dry when he first saw his bedroom? This could be a good movie, but only if they take out the absolutely crazy stuff–pouring water on a disabled man’s legs??? How is that supposed to be funny?

    This film looks like it played to all of the worst stereotypes.

  • stellaxo

    i agree! it looks good- i think one of my friends who lives in france recommended it to me a while back. i think american remakes tend to be borderline awful, i don’t know what it is. and @santana- i was thinking the same- he’s too cute! and that smile! :)))

  • Jonathan

    You wrote this article from an african american point of view but, you should know that history of black people in France is far different from black america.
    If you’re not french or familiar to the french culture this movie is going to make you angry.
    But you can’t make any judgment on something you dont know, for the record black people have been in america for hundreds years, black people came in france just a couple decades ago.

  • Liz

    0:28, y a il aucun…chapstick…en France?

  • Liz

    …this actually looks like a good film.

  • Becca

    I hope you weren’t being sarcastic because I think it looks like a good film too

  • paloma

    If you’re colorblind then this movie is a hit!

  • Reason

    I have to apologize and let everyone know that I went to see “The Blide Side”. They got my money, I was mad. I steered clear of The Help (which we seem divided on, I might add), and no one saw Red Tails because there were no black women in it. We need to make up our minds about whether or not we are going to support this stuff. By “we” I mean you, because my mind is made up.

  • Robbie

    As a French gal. Of course, I will go see it. Stop comparing us to you. We are not the same.

  • Brooklynista

    So…I watched the trailer, fully ready to hate it, and…it actually looks awesome! I’ll check it out.

    But NO to an American remake. They would snatch whatever depth and agency the Senegalese character has and REALLY turn the story into a Greenmileblindsidedrivingmissdaisythehelpbaggervance fiasco.

  • Cee

    I always have mixed feelings when people jump the gun and say these people play the mammy role because it almost demeans the people who actually do work like this for a living. If one doesn’t like it, that’s a different story but for those that do like working with disabled people its their reality and who are we to take that away from them.

    I found myself smiling through the trailer and like someone mentioned I hope they bring it to America in its original formatting w/subtitles.

  • http://www.pinkpantiesandleopardlipstick.wordpress.com Myisha of Pink Panties & Leopard Lipstick

    While I totally get the stereotypical irritation of it all, it still looks like a good film nonetheless. I’d love to see it.. the trailer alone made me smile. Forget the damn remake… which will probably suck and be even MORE stereotypical… and just bring the damn film as is with subtitles! We could use a lil foreign culture in our lives… as well as some practice reading! lol

    xx

  • Honey

    It is based on a true story between an Arab and french man. I saw this movie few months ago and the black man is a clown in the movie à la Josephine Baker, male style. You know, there to entertain the white folks. He dances, he makes loud jokes and he is very heated by a red hair white woman. It worked as he won a prize for this foolishness.
    The movie portrays real life in a lot of poor households in France. He has absolutely no EDUCATION in the movie and is quite irresponsible. Besides the fact that he cares a lot about his little brother.
    Black women are absent except for his ”mother” who is a struggling and sad woman. Typical!

    On the other side, he is careless about the system and try to live as free as he can. He is not the stuck up black male trying to be accepted by the system. So many of us are trying to be perfect according the the law of the society we live in and sometimes it just killed us slowly but surely.

    I knew I was not going to like this movie when I saw it so I was kind of biased however some parts made me laugh.

  • babe

    I heard that EbonyLolita!!!! And it is not surprising that a jewish man wants to do the film here in America. They love to keep those old stereotypes of blacks alive and kicking. You are so right about every opportunity not being a good one. I wish more of these black actors would think like Denzel. I read Steppin Fechit’s biography a while back and he felt that he was opening the door for black actors, well I would rather they stayed shut!!!! His movies pushed us further back, not forward!!!!

  • raah

    reminds me of B.A.P.s

  • Socially Maladjusted

    @Honey

    Thank you for this nicely written and enlightening post.

  • Dalili

    My sentiments exactly!

  • Unity

    And they’ve also dealt with real and crippling xenophobia and racism. While you make a point that is generally valid (context is key), in this case it isn’t. As the article even highlighted, not all French critics having been raving about the idea to quietly enjoy excessive stereotypes about Black French people:

    “This film dates to the 1930s, when it was thought the black man has no culture and spends his time laughing at everything,” philosopher Jean-Jacques Delfour said after reviewing the film for the French daily Liberation.

  • Africanqueen

    gosh you african american people will go nowhere obsessed with your colors issue! you keep seeing color everywhere and therefore not at all openminded.
    have you ever thought about that poor white man on a wheel chair? that man abandonned ignored by his family and his friend and society? did you ever thought that black people in france are sometimes not even french but still have their african passeport and are not at all looking to be seen as white are accepted by the white french because some have their own family in africa? black french make a lot of fun of the white as well because in france people make fun of breton, of corse, of lillois, of asian, of parisians, of senegalese, etc but at least even if we dont have a black president yet people here actually do mix! there are far more interracial family here then there are in the state. so stop comparing your country with other peoples country we french people are african first we therefore dont have much of history to share with you americans beside we are black.

  • CHE

    Boy-no offense-but you Africans are ummm interesting and ill leave it there……so all Black French are African? and you all are happy and mixing?….so what were the riots in France about not too long ago (heavily African) and all the stories of Blacks not having access and do you really think you will have a Black president especially an African descended one in France anytime soon?….I mean Im just a descendant of slaves(quite proud of their strenght and balls) so I cant possibly know what I am talking about, so i defer to your superior smarts.

  • UMM…

    **Applauds** Very well-said Che

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