'Old Sitting' ('Sales gosses'): Film Review

Courtesy of Roger Do Minh
Oldie but not goodie.

Actor-turned-director Frederic Quiring's debut feature follows a group of French senior citizens enrolled in summer camp.

Each summer, a French comedy comes along that tries to to exploit its country’s sacrosanct vacation rituals, whether in the form of trailer park trash (the Camping series), nostalgia for the golden years (Nicholas on Holiday, Ducoboo 2: Crazy Vacation), camp chaos (Those Happy Days, from the makers of Intouchable), ripoffs of The Love Boat (La Croisiere) or good ol' fashioned sexism (One Wild Moment).

In the best case you get something like Jacques Tati's Monsieur Hulot's Holiday, but in most cases you get much of the above or else the latest specimen, Old Sitting (Sales gosses) — an awful if affable mash-up of Dirty Grandpa and Meatballs that follows a bunch of senior citizens and their reluctant 20-something counselor over the course of one wet hot Gallic summer.

Written and directed by actor Frederic Quiring (Olivier, Olivier), this is a tacky, broad-minded effort that piles on jokes about old people buying condoms, old people being incontinent, old people smoking joints, old people dancing the Macarena, and old people saying and sometimes doing dirty things. It's rarely funny but rather likeable in its R-rated bonhomie, with Albert Delpy (father of Julie) stealing the show as a booty-obsessed grandad who doesn't mind playing in the buff or paying young women for sex.

The story revolves around goofball medical student Alex (Thomas Soliveres), who's forced by his parents to work in a summer camp instead of spending holidays with his friends. The catch is that this particular camp caters to the 65-and-above set, with Alex and fellow counselors Toure (Issa Doumbia) and Blanche (Barbara Bolotner) taking charge of a dozen or so elderly campers who can be as misbehaved as your average bunk-load of teenage brats. (The film's French title translates to Dirty Kids).

After one day on the job Alex has already had enough, so it doesn't take a master's degree in narrative theory to imagine that he'll ultimately warm up to these crazy old coots, and even prefer them to all the shallow people his own age. But before that happens, lots of mayhem will ensue, with the campers losing their dentures or losing their bowels, though not quite losing their minds — the film seems to poke fun at every senior condition except Alzheimer's — as they give their favorite curly haired counselor a run for his money.

Along with Delpy's pervy Monsieur Pascal, other codgers include Spanish poodle lover Teresa (Volver star Carmen Maura), the hard-to-please Mireille (Michel Moretti) and her stick-in-the-mud former spouse, Francois (Jacques Boudet). And then there's the trash-talking, incredibly belligerent Josette, played by Liliane Rovere — who was memorable in Emmanuel Finkiel's Holocaust survivor drama Voyages and who spends half of this movie walking around with a penis drawn on her face.

Quiring seems to be willing to do anything to get a laugh, and while his skills as a director are extremely limited, he at least shows lots of love for his characters, incontinence be damned. Soliveres, who may be the closest thing the French cinema has ever had to Yahoo Serious (this of course includes the hair), is not particularly hilarious or even entertaining, delivering most of his lines in a blase whiny-boy voice that quickly grows insufferable. Luckily the rest of the cast is there to put him in his place, and if Old Sitting deserves credit for anything, it’s for showing that, in the words of Wiz Khalifa, seniors can still get drunk, smoke weed and be young, wild and free.

Production company: Les Films du 24
Cast: Thomas Soliveres, Tanya Lopert, Albert Delpy, Carmen Maura, Michele Moretti
Director, screenwriter: Frederic Quiring
Producer: Mikael Abecassis
Director of photography: Crystel Fournier
Production designer: Olivier Seiler
Costume designer: Catherine Rigault
Editor: Thibault Damade
Composer: Matei Bratescot
Casting directors: Manon Poudoulec
Sales: UGC

In French
88 minutes

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