19 May 2003 | genevadavid
French Road Movie in U.S. Southwest
This comedy was triggered by the real story of a group of French tourists stranded in the southwestern US when their tour operator went bankrupt. In this film, the tour guide tries heroically to keep up the appearances of a dream tour as the inconveniences grow into disaster. For example, they are steered to a yellow school bus instead of the air-conditioned coach they expected. Everyone goes along with the program with varying degrees of fuss. Like the tourists, the audience has to be good natured about the inconveniences. At times, we have to suspend credulity, as when the group camps out in a swanky hotel suite, or when they camp out in the desert. But then we are rewarded with some lovely vistas of the southwest, including Death Valley, the Grand Canyon, and Monument Valley.
When we are not admiring the scenery, we get to watch the different characters - the young couple, the old communist couple, the bourgeois couple, the journalist, the tour guide, the chain-smoking woman, the black gym instructor, etc. - interact and reveal their individual stories and pet peeves.
The film is careful to refrain from criticism of American culture. However, it does poke jabs at the French. You would have to be fairly familiar with France and the French (and the language) to appreciate the digs. That makes it a French road movie with an American backdrop.
The one character that is unfortunately left undeveloped is the Latino (presumably Mexican) bus driver. One wonders what he thought of these crazy French tourists.