The Intouchables

There are some films which are so surface-level and obvious that merely hearing the premise is enough for you to make a pretty good guess at what the film will be. The Intouchables is exactly one of those films, and although it is completely predictable, it also manages to be rather entertaining.

The film features Philippe as an extremely wealthy frenchman whose sense of adventure got him into an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He’s dependent upon others for just about everything, and when his current caretaker leaves, he must choose a replacement right away. Fortunately, there are lots of well-mannered and highly-qualified young men vying to be close to him and his money. And then there’s Driss. He’s not well-mannered, not qualified, and not at all interested in the job. He’s only there because the welfare office won’t keep paying him unless he can show that he’s going for interviews and at least making an attempt to get hired. He’s rude and pushy and just wants to get a signature and leave, but something about him strikes a chord with Philippe, and Driss ends up with a job offer.

There are a lot of aspects of the job which don’t appeal to Driss. Especially the part about taking care of a rich white guy to the point of having to do things like feed and bathe and dress him. But he’s also not particularly fond of being homeless, which is his current condition after his most recent episode of ticking off his family, and the new job comes with some pretty luxurious accommodations. So he reluctantly takes the job, but there’s absolutely no way he’s going to do the gross stuff.

Actually, a lot of the comedy in The Intouchables is derived from Driss emphatically stating that he will absolutely not do something followed by a hard cut to him doing exactly that. It’s just about the most obvious and lazy form of humor out there, but for some reason the audience seemed to eat it up. There are other sources of comedy in the film, and some of them are reasonably funny on their own merits, but it’s definitely not a laugh riot that will have you rolling in the aisles. But it is nevertheless mostly enjoyable and works fairly well as a buddy comedy. Plus, it’s a lot less self-congratulatory and racially-motivated than The Blind Side.

The film is apparently based on a true story, which I find surprising not because the story was turned into a movie, but because someone someone found the story worth telling on a large scale. It really isn’t particularly significant beyond the characters of Philippe and Driss, and the significance to them isn’t much more than friendship. It is entertaining but shallow, and as a result has no real lasting effect.