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  • The magnificent French comic actor Louis de Funès demonstrates his talent in this French-Italian film.He plays Charles Bosquier- a grumpy principal of a reputable boys college.Bosquier always controls his students very strictly.His problems start when an exchange program sends an attractive 19 year-old girl to his college in order to spend the summer vacation there and learn more about the French culture.Bosquier's son falls in love with her and they run away.So,the principal is on the verge of madness and he starts chasing them. The film contains lots of funny scenes and humor and of course the superb acting of Louis de Funès.Honestly,the scenario has some weak points.Definitely,"Les Grandes vacances" is not one of the best films of Funès but it is worth seeing.
  • 1960s style French comedy with better than average gags and the comic timing of Funes. This diverting film deals with a stiff Principal named Charles : Louis de Funes, of a rigid boarding school. On vacation he is planning a student exchange between his son Philippe and MacFarrell's daughter : Martine Kelly, but Philip actually plans to save an amusing holiday by boat and replacing himself by the fat nerd Stephane : Maurice Rish. To be aware Charles of his true activitates, that's why he follows his son, chasing the yacht by sailing, or flying . But then his colleague : Ferdy Mayne, soon joins him and things go wrong.

    This enjoyable French comedy contains amusing incidents, funny set pieces, slapstick, slapdash, simple humor and loads of fun . Of course, the central piece is Louis de Funes himself and his comic genious, while delivering a towering main performance, a prime example of a first role carrying a film . In fact this role as a strict school headmaster was particularly written for this great French comedy superstar. As it is a Louis de Funes show, giving a sympathetic acting , as usual, he is very good providing his habitual Tics, gestures , tongue twister and overacting with lots of gesticulation. Costarred by the likeable young girl Martine Kelly who also played with Funes in Hibernatus and The Band, in addition Ferdy Mayne who acted in Fearless Vampire Killers by Polanski . Here Funes is accompanied by ordinary actors who usually show up in Saint Tropez Gendarme series as Claude Gensac also playing his wife , Guy Grosso and Maurice Risch. And brief appearance by Silvia Dionisio, subsequently a star of the Italian sex comedy.

    Agreeable musical score by regular Raymond Lefebre that scored Saint Tropez franchise. As well as colorful cinematography by Marcel Grignon, this notorious cameraman is considered to be one of the best of French cinema. The picture was amusingly and lively directed by Jean Girault who made the Saint Tropez series with Louis de Funes. Girault was a comedy expert, directing a lot , such as : The miser, Squek squek, Jo, The troops of St Tropez, Gendarme in balade, Gendarme in New York, Gendarme and the Gendarmettes, Gendarme and the creatures of the outer space, Les Charlots, among others. Rating 7/10. Well worth watching. The flick will appeal to Louis de Funes fans.
  • "The Exchange Student" won the Golden Ticket in 1967, it was the movie that attracted the highest number of viewers, it also marks the fourth time in a row that this feat is achieved by a De Funès comedy (forgive the pleonasm). Indeed, the last two years were his classic works with Gérard Oury: "The Sucker" and "The Great Stroll" (the most successful French movie of all time before being dethroned in 2008 by Dany Boon's "Welcome to the Ch'tis") and before them, Jean Girault first opus of the "Troops" series: "the Gendarme of St Tropez". Fourth time's a charm. It wouldn't happen in 1968 because you just can't beat Walt Disney "The Jungle Book" attracted 14 million people, twice more than any De Funès movie but still less than "The Great Stroll".

    Now, why should I always bring up these ponderous statistics when I review a De Funès movie, to be honest, it's because I don't feel much like reviewing this film and I'm just gaining space and time. But if there's a point I'm trying to make is that De Funès' bankable status had firmly been established, that it happened with two different directors, proved was definitely De Funès' talent that attracted the viewers. But 1967 marks a real turn, the top movies of 64, 65 and 66 were objectively the best and are still regarded as De Funès most defining and iconic works, "The Exchange Student" is a good movie that delivers a fair share of laughs but 'legendary' isn't a word I'd use to describe it.

    The film has a nice little premise that allows De Funès not to rely much on his expected gimmicks, you know the over-the-top reactions, the grimaces and gesticulations, he's rather quite restrained and it pays off most of the times. It is also the first film where Claude Gensac plays his wife and the chemistry is obvious and would never lack in their next collaborations (she'll be his wife in the next 'Troops" opus the year after). It also features one of the most defining scores of the 60's as Raymond Lefèvre's tempo carries all the joy and exhilaration of this period, whether we're talking of the summer vacations' start of the sixties in France.

    The set up is all well-made, De Funès is a tyrannical head of a prestigious boarding school with a rebellious son who got lousy marks in English so he sends him for an exchange program with an English student. The son wants to sails across the Seine so he sends one of his friends to take his place, meanwhile, the English girl comes and it's a matter of a few scenes before she has a love at first sight with De Funès' son and leaves the school. Worried about the negative publicity, he goes looking for them. The plot bears too much resemblance to his chase after his daughter in "The Troops in New York" or to the designer of his ship in the "Little Swimmer". After two classic road movies with De Funès, the concept starts to wear down a little, and watching De Funès harboring different disguises isn't the kind of roaring laughter material it used to be.

    This is not to say that there's not much to enjoy in "The Exchange Student", the film is like a time capsule of an innocent France circa 1967, and it features a few interesting moments of clashes between French and British culture, at a time where France was overflown by the Beatle-mania and the rise of the mini-skirts. The interactions between De Funès and Ferdy Mayne, who plays the girl's father provide some of the film's best moments. But the film is more of a product of its era, a sort of illustration of the kind of movies they used to make, but it doesn't really stand on its own right as a must-see De Fune's movie, you can listen to the score on Youtube, watch a few clips, you wouldn't miss much.

    It's so forgettable that I even wish it was a little worse so I could care about explaining while it's not good. But here's an example, there's a funny character in the movie, the housemaid, she desperately wants to show a sailor uniform to the British hosts, which in the context of the film, is a rather incriminating piece. De Funès closes the door on the uniform and she keeps pulling it, naturally, the funniest thing he can do is to open the door. But then, do we need to watch her being pushed down to the bed and lose consciousness, the sight of a door opening and hearing her losing her balance would have been enough, but subtlety has never been Girault's strongest suit. The bar brawl that occurs halfway through the film is another instance asking for our indulgence.

    And the film is not even that bad, it just mild and innocent entertainment. Even Olivier de Funès, as the younger son, is being given the ungrateful role of the butt-kisser while he looked nothing like a snitch, he'd have better pairing with his father in the 70's but his presence also indicates that De Funès gained more nepotistic power and influence, but I wouldn't consider him accountant for the film's lack of entertainment, he's actually the best thing about the film, he made me wonder if I wouldn't enjoy a school session with him rather than all the sailing trips with boring, predictable youth.
  • Vincentiu11 August 2014
    it is not the best movie of Louis de Funes. but that fact not represents a great sin because the old recipes works, the humor is good, the clash between the values of college director and his students - amusing and the adventures to Le Havre nice at whole. a good point - the conflict between French and Englishmen, almost a sketch but used with inspired precise. a film about holiday,interesting, not extraordinary or seductive but covered by the talent of one of greatest actors. a film for entire family. and that fact is the essential virtue for discover/remind the spirit of a French cinema style. summer, holiday and a great actor. it could be enough.
  • at the first sigh, each film of Louis de Funes is only version of the others. but each of themes gives a new way to discover the near reality. "Les Grandes Vacances" is far to be an exception. the humor has the same source. the cultural differences,the joy of youth against the neurosis of the neurosis of the small man with serious responsibilities, the holiday and the love, the same partners for the admirable de Funes and the solution for the great problems. and it is enough for a great comedy .
  • I didn't know their collaboration was so huge (12 movies including the famous Gendarme) but this movie is much better than the previous one i watched, « Jo ». In a way, in 1967, France was still at the top, with people happy, working and enjoying life and families. It's very cool to discover their fashion, the music revolution and the youth getting their liberty ! Here, Fufu plays a tyrannical schoolmaster, father and husband ! His extraordinary talent is to play him with a lot of humanity and silliness so at the end, his character is engaging ! Another cool thing with Fufu is that as an actor, he likes to play inside a family, his working one (his wife, the strong man, the English girl, …) as well as the real other. Like the best comedy, there is a real plot to build the action and it's not an endless bit of chunks ! With the movie, we visit the country side near Paris, Normandy, London and even Scotland ! It's really funny, totally absurd and accurate with the human nature. If i don't rate « 10 », it's only because the last part of the movie with the Scottish folklore is too much action, even if the English actor is really good to act with Fufu ! So this a real recommendation for those who love summer movies, vacations, teen-parents relationships and « entente cordial » !
  • I quite agree with Elmaruecan82's long and excellent review. I will take away one further star because of the treatment and terrible shooting conditions those poor horses in the last scene obviously had to go through. Just for this I would recommend boycotting this movie! But it's too bad because, as has been observed, the premise is great and a perfect opportunity for a fun, cross-cultural window on 1967, and all the right comedians are in the cast (even Claude Gensac). It's just mostly bad, over-the-top, comedic stuff, deprived altogether of the quasi-surrealism of the best De Funès entries of his prime years. Even himself plays kind of low-key here... And his verbal fighting scenes with his English antagonist are poorly improvised...