Rory Mulholland, Telegraph, October 13, 2014
British and American cinema-goers will not get to see a hugely popular French comedy because it has been rejected by film distributors who deem it politically incorrect and possibly racist.
“Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au Bon Dieu?” (Serial (Bad) Weddings) tells the tale of two stuffy, white, Catholic parents whose daughters horrify them by marrying men of other religions and ethnic backgrounds.
Three are already wed–to an Arab Muslim, a north African Jew, and a Chinese man–and Maman and Papa place all their hope in their youngest daughter, only to discover that she has promised herself to a man from Ivory Coast.
The movie has been seen by more than 12 million French but will not make it across the water because, according to the production company behind it, English-speaking audiences “would never allow themselves these days to laugh at blacks, Jews or Asians.”
“The people [in US and UK distribution companies] we spoke to found it politically incorrect,” Sabine Chemaly of TFI International told Le Point magazine.
The film got mostly rave reviews in France, with one critic praising it as a “sort of hymn to the melting pot of France, an efficient comedy that uses self-derision to promote multicultural tolerance”.
The film’s message appears to be that even if the French are sometimes a little racist, common sense will prevail and everyone can in the end get along.
The director, Philippe de Chauveron, said his film was about “deflating” the prejudices peddled by the anti-immigrant Front National party, whose support has been growing rapidly in France in recent years.
But the few reviews that have appeared in the English-language film trade press were negative.
“The majority of the jokes are extremely heavy-handed–the Jew calls the Arab “Arafat” and then is karate-chopped by the Asian,” said the Hollywood Reporter, while Variety magazine noted that the film had been criticised for “perpetuating racist stereotypes and feeding into France’s ambient xenophobia”.
The 2011 French film, The Intouchables, touched upon similar topics as Serial (Bad) Weddings and grossed nearly $400 million worldwide, but it’s hard to see Weddings honeymooning far outside the usual Francophone hotspots,” added the Hollywood Reporter.