A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Intouchables is an award-winning French drama based on the true story of a wealthy quadriplegic and his down-and-out personal aide. Like most odd-couple stories, the drama includes worthwhile lessons about friendship being deeper than the superficial differences that divide people (in this case, race, wealth, education, and physical ability). It's subtitled, but there are about 10 translated uses of "f--k," as well as "s--t," "a--hole," and other insults. There are several references to sex, an ongoing comedic flirtation between a man and an uninterested woman, and plenty of cigarettes, wine, and even some marijuana -- used both medicinally and for leisure.
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What's the story?
The award-winning French drama THE INTOUCHABLES is about a rich, white Parisian quadriplegic who hires a black ex-con as his live-in personal assistant. Loosely based on a true story, the story follows how paralyzed aristocrat Philippe (Francois Cluzet) gives down-and-out petty criminal Driss (Omar Sy) a chance to be his health aide, even though there are many more qualified applicants. At first, Driss is skeptical and even disgusted by some of his responsibilities (like bathroom duty), but soon enough the two very different men come to understand and respect each other -- and help each other above and beyond any employer-employee dynamic.
Is it any good?
As unlikely friendships in movies go, the one between Philippe and Driss is purely on the sweet and inspiring side. There's nothing all that complicated about their alliance. Wealthy Philippe and street Driss understand each other and can teach other the respective importance of Beethoven and Earth, Wind and Fire. Though Philippe can't drive, Driss can use his legs to drive Philippe's Maserati fast and furious, providing a thrill that Philippe thought he'd never feel again.
Although deeper issues about the socio-economic divisions that separate Philippe and Driss aren't substantively explored, The Intouchables is a fantastically acted, surprisingly funny film. It's obvious what Driss gets from being Philippe's aide (a steady income, a ridiculously beautiful place to live, and all the other luxuries that being part of Philippe's household staff offers). But it's equally obvious how Philippe benefits from the relationship: He gets a sense of spontaneity, a lust for life, and a companion without pity. It's no wonder why France selected the feel-good movie as its 2012 submission to the Academy Awards for best foreign language film.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what The Intouchables teaches about disability. Why was Philippe happier with Driss as an aide than the other, more objectively qualified assistants? How did Driss treat Philippe differently than the others?
Some critics have said the story dismisses any deep exploration of the differences (particularly race and class) between the two men. Do you agree?
How does the movie portray smoking? How is it different in that regard than an American movie?
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