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The Intouchables (2011)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/5/2013

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/6/2013

One would hope that a good movie would be considered a good movie no matter where in the world in was viewed. However, cultural differences and regional references can have an impact on how a particular audience approaches the material. Also, there may be a film which seems fresh and new to one geographical area, but seems stale and hackneyed to another. (This occurred when Asian horror films began having an impact on Hollywood productions.) The Intouchables is a movie which could have world-wide appeal -- it all depends on one's experiences with certain types of characters.

As The Intouchables opens, we are introduced to two very different men. Philippe (Francois Cluzet) is a very rich man who is paralyzed from the neck down and confined to a wheelchair. Driss (Omar Sy) comes from the slums and lives in a cramped apartment he shares with his family. In order to get benefits (welfare?), Driss must have evidence that he has applied for jobs. He goes to Philippe's home to interview for the job of caretaker. Philippe is impressed with Driss' size and bravado and invites him back the next day. Driss then finds himself in an odd situation -- he can't believe the size of his bedroom (and his own bathroom), but he's not crazy about the idea of feeding and dressing this man. But, Driss gives the job a try and he soon finds himself intrigued by Philippe's life. The two discuss music and love, and Driss helps to bring Philippe out of his shell. In turn, Philippe introduces Driss to art. But, how long can Driss stay away from his old life?

The Intouchables was a huge international hit. By mid 2012, the movie had made nearly $350 million worldwide...without having been released in the U.S. It was big in French-speaking countries, but it was also a success in Germany and Spain. It's easy to see why the movie was so popular. It tells a heart-warming tale of two men who are polar opposites, and most likely would have never crossed-paths if not for these circumstances. But, once they get together, they find common ground. Philippe needs someone who won't treat him life a fragile child. Whether he knows it or not, Driss needs someone who can help to bring out his more sensitive and sophisticated side. These men quickly stop being employer and employee, becoming friends and confidants. The story offers a nice mixture of humor and moving moments.

While it's easy to see why audiences like The Intouchables, it's more difficult to grasp why they love it. Again, maybe it's a cultural thing. Here in America, we're very accustomed to movies where the street-wise black guy infiltrates a stuffy white family and shows them how to have a good time. Have you seen Trading Places? Have you seen Beverly Hills Cop? Well, imagine those movies with lose violence, less frozen orange juice, and a guy in a wheelchair and you've got The Intouchables. Yes, this movie is more sophisticated than those movies -- it is French, after all -- but it's the same idea. I don't know how to say, "Oh, hell no!" in French, but Driss utters its equivalent several times as he's introduced to the strange things that white people do, such as having pen pals or paying way too much for paintings. It's not that these things aren't entertaining, they are, but I couldn't help but feel that I'd seen it all before.

Therefore, for me at least, The Intouchables was a tough nut to crack. I liked it for what it was -- I laughed at the right times, and I was touch at the right times -- but I certainly didn't love it. It's a well-made film, which, as it should, takes advantage of the beautiful sites of Paris. The acting is top-notch. Cluzet, using only his face and head, does a great job of portraying a man who is trapped not only in a wheelchair, but a certain kind of lifestyle. Sy could have played Driss as a complete thug, but we believe him when he's having the more quiet moments. In the end, The Intouchables is an enjoyable movie, but it's also uneven. It feels like a mixture between a Hallmark Channel movie and Trading Places. You'll be entertained, but you'll also wonder what made Europe go nuts over it.

The Intouchables may be the first movie where the word "croissant" is included in a threat on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no noticeable grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look fantastic, just look at the various shades when they travel to the mountains. The image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is very good and the actors are nicely separated from the backgrounds. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.8 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects and the English subtitles are easy to read. One wouldn't expect a film like this to deliver much subwoofer, but Driss loves Earth, Wind, & Fire and these musical moments bring the bass. Otherwise, we are treated to mild stereo and surround effects, most of which appear during crowd scenes. They show good separation, but aren't overwhelming.

The only extra on The Intouchables Blu-ray Disc is a reel of five DELETED SCENES which run about 6 minutes. These are all very brief and most are just basic dialogue scenes, but the last one does show Driss doing something nice for his family.

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.