Jean Dujardin is slipping back into yellow T-shirts, baggy black pants and floppy blond wig to play Brice de Nice, the hapless wannabe surfer who’s always ready with a good burn and searching for the perfect wave. The first film, 2005’s Brice De Nice, was a massive success in France and set Dujardin on his way to superstar status — he followed it up with the OSS series of 007 spoof films and then won an Oscar for The Artist. Brice 3 has just started shooting in the south of France.
James Huth, who directed the first movie and co-wrote the script and the best-selling soundtrack, wrote the script for the new Brice with Dujardin.
Ten years ago, the character Dujardin created as part of a sketch play transferred to the screen and became a phenomenon in France. It sold 4.4M tickets locally and was at the top of the box office charts come year’s end. Brice is a sort of lovable dimwit from Nice who is forever searching for the perfect wave (undeterred by the non-undulating Mediterranean) and who prays at the altar of Point Break‘s Bodhi — there’s a Patrick Swayze fever dream in the first movie. Importantly, he’s got a catchphrase and signature moves that weren’t just part of the French zeitgeist in 2005, they were the zeitgeist. Such was the film’s impact that year that it was invited for a special red carpet screening in Cannes — a month after it was already in theaters.
The first film didn’t really make a dent in English-speaking markets. It was a tough one to translate with so many twists of language and colloquialisms — especially that signature catchphrase, “Je t’ai cassé!” Literally, it means “I’ve broken you,” but that’s not the real sense. I’ve pondered for years over the exact way to convey the meaning and think of it more like how we used to say “burn on you” as kids. When Brice is talking to someone, anyone, he’ll toss out random insults followed up by a diagonal chopping movement with his hand and a swaying of his hips (see photo at left and video below) as he says “Je t’ai cassé!” It’s never too harsh — he mostly laughs at his own jokes through his toothy grin — but the basic sense is “Oh, burn!” And it’s not just for insults, he’ll use it for just about anything.
While this new film is being referred to as Brice 3, it’s actually only the second movie, because, as the subtitle of the new film says, “Le 2, Je L’ai Cassé!” Again, basically, “I broke or burned the sequel.” Another example: In a scene from the first movie, Brice robs a bank — another slight nod to Point Break — but rather than mimicking the Ex-Presidents gang, it becomes a music video set to the tune “La Casse de Brice.” A “casse” is also a robbery (video below).
In France, kids still dress up as Brice on Halloween, assuring healthy box office when it releases likely next year, for the nostalgia crew, new initiates and the fanbase Dujardin has picked up in the intervening years. It’s not yet known how or if this film will be tailored to international audiences, but with Dujardin’s star status it could travel. He was just in Toronto with Un Plus Une, a romantic comedy from veteran helmer Claude Lelouch.
Also returning to the cast is Clovis Cornillac who plays Brice’s sidekick, Marius. He’s most recently been starring in the France 2 drama series Chefs to which Keshet Studios recently acquired the U.S adaptation rights. And, Bruno Salomone (A Monster In Paris) is back, too, with Alban Lenoir (Hero Cop) joining the cast.
The plotline on the new film sees Brice, having become something of a tourist attraction in Nice, receive an SOS from Marius and taking the first plane out to Thailand to come to his rescue.
Huth made his debut feature, Serial Lover, in 1999. He went on to produce the English-language cult horror movie Dead End starring Ray Wise. Then he catapulted with Brice in 2005 and followed it up with another horror flick, Hell Phone, before doing Lucky Luke, again with Dujardin.
Eric and Nicolas Altmayer’s Mandarin Films is again producing this Brice with Dujardin’s JD Prod. TFM released the first film. This one is going out via Gaumont with Gaumont International handing sales.
Check out a trailer for the first Brice De Nice and the “La Casse de Brice” video below: