In a nutshell, Jacque Tati’s Monsieur Hulotâs Holiday (1953) is a hilariously funny movie from start to finish. The plot, to be polite, is sparse – the clownish Mr. Hulot goes on vacation to the seaside. That’s it. What makes this French film so funny (the original French title is Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot,) is the constant visual humor. The humor typically (but not exclusively) centered on Jacques Tati’s title character, Monsieur Hulot – a genial, slightly dimwitted character, who often causes chaos without being aware of it.
For instance, a waiter at the seaside hotel where M. Hulot is vacationing is distracted when M. Hulot walks by and looks at his watch – tipping a bottle of liquid onto an innocent customer. In another scene, another hotel employee drops something into a fish tank, rolls up his sleeve to retrieve it, but when M. Hulot walks by he puts his other sleeve into the fish tank. I’m not going to list favorite bits from the film because there are dozens of them. However, one of them does stick out, where he tries to straighten out a wall painting, only to make another painting crooked – unwittingly and unaware.
Monsieur Hurlotâs Holiday is a very funny film, and I rarely stopped laughing while watching it. I recommend it very highly and rate it 4 clowns out of 5.
Editorial review of Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday starring Jacques Tati, courtesy of Amazon.com essential video
Forefather of Rowan Atkinson‘s Mr. Bean, Jacques Tati’s Monsieur Hulot–a recurring character in several of his movies–is a blithely clumsy troublemaker, an insouciant twit who leaves uproar in his wake without being aware of it. Trying to describe this 1953 comedy is next to impossible except to say it is a series of vignettes at a vacation resort, with the distracted Hulot providing a lot of laughs. Tati directs, and in a way what that really means is that he composes this movie with a perfect eye and ear for the comic possibilities in everything: composition, lighting, minimal marble-mouth dialogue, certain sounds (a duck call, a door repeatedly opening and shutting). This is a superior work that ranks among all-time classic comedies. –Tom Keogh
Product Description of Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday
Pipe-smoking Monsieur Hulot, Jacques Tatiâs endearing clown, takes a holiday at a seaside resort where his presence provokes one catastrophe after another. Tatiâs wildly funny satire of vacationers determined to enjoy themselves includes a series of precisely choreographed sight gags involving dogs, boats, and firecrackers. The first entry in the Hulot series is a masterpiece of gentle slapstick.