Excuse My French, 2014
Written and directed by Amir Salama
Starring Ahmed Dash, Hani Adel, Kinda Allouch, Ahmed Helmy
A Christian kid suddenly is forced to go to a public school after his father dies and because of a misunderstanding everyone thinks that he’s a Muslim.
There is a lot to be said for comedy getting “lost in translation”. Those who are au fait with Egyptian religious politics and the prejudices between Christians and Muslims may find a lot of humour in Amir Salama’s Excuse My French, but anyone else will just see it as a brightly coloured and overlong film with a couple of titters. It’s like watching The West Wing with no understanding of the American government system and just enjoying watching the characters walk around the halls spouting witty dialogue. It’s enjoyable from a certain angle, but it doesn’t give you any real satisfaction.
Hany is a good kid, and a good religious kid. He loves his church, he loves football (Manchester United, of course) and he loves his school. However, when his father has an unexpected heart attack and dies, this Christian boy is forced to go to a public school predominately attended by Muslims. After finding out this his religion is shunned from the popular kids in school, Hany does everything he can to stand out and be popular – so he pretends he’s Muslim. And, hilarity ensures, I guess.
Excuse My French is a charming movie, that much can be said. Salama shoots the movie beautifully and its edited snappily so that it zips and zaps with great fluidity in the early goings. He uses narration to set up the characters, background and plot and the design has just the right level of quirk that Excuse My French never becomes irksome or irritating. As the film progresses into the “meat” of the story however, it becomes a bit more standard but Salama still shows some flare and creativity in certain moments to add some colour and levity to what could be perceived as a heavy subject.
But while it looks nice and Ahmed Dash is a likeable lead, there really isn’t much to say about Excuse My French as it feels like it has nothing to say itself. Even if the humour did translate to an English speaking audience, there isn’t a huge amount of laughs to be had outside of a couple of chuckles here and there. Salama’s script is fairly baggy and the movie doesn’t seem to know when to leave the table, often Return of the King‘ing it by having several natural conclusions and not deciding on which one is the most satisfactory.
Is it bad, is it good? It’s hard to say really. Excuse My French certainly has some positives, but they’re bogged down by a flimsy script and a lack of jokes. Perhaps it is just just the humour being lost in translation, but that could just be a poor excuse for a bad comedy. It’s charming and pretty to look at, but that’s about it.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★