Pipe-smoking Monsieur Hulot, Jacques Tati's endearing clown, takes a holiday at a seaside resort where his presence provokes one catastrophe after another. Tati's wildly funny satire of vacationers determined to enjoy them... more »selves 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.« less
"My husband and I enjoyed MR HULOT'S VACATION very much. Although the film has been described elsewhere as slapstick, I don't think it is -- though there are a few scenes that made me laugh like crazy. VACATION is an intelligent and subltle film that does not depend on clever dialogue, in fact there is very little dialogue, though the film is not silent.The comparison with Mr. Bean is a good one, but Tati is not Roland Atkins any more than Buster Keaton was Charlie Chaplin. In fact, Tati falls somewhere in between Chaplin and Atkins, neither as clumsy or pitiable as the former nor as socially inept as the latter. In fact, Mr. Hulot seems an average sort of guy who experiences more than his share of the odd experiences that can and do happen to everyone. Mr. Hulot appeals because we can identify with him. For example, Mr. Hulot has problems with his car. Well, I once owned a car I could not get out of second gear. Since the mechanic could not fix it for a price I could afford, I drove it very slowly. My mother owned a car that flicked on the windshield wipers and headlights every time she hit a bump. She had to hit another bump to turn them off. My husband had an old MG with a rusted floorboard. As you rode along you could see the pavement underneath the car. We gave it to my daughter and she traded it for a bicycle. Mr. Hulot's experiences with his car don't seem odd to me, and they make me laugh in recognition. Chaplin was always center stage and to a certain extent Atkins is seldom out of the frame either. However, Mr Hulot shares the stage with an assortment of people some might call eccentric. In fact, the folks in VACATION remind me of the people who populate my own world. I am not unique, however, I am observant, and one of the things I like about Tati is that he recognizes each person is an individual and that each has interesting experiences that are occasionally funny. As Mr. Bennet says in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, "but for what do we exist except to amuse others and they in their turn to amuse us." Humor is in the eye of the beholder. Tati simply makes it obvious that people are funny.Like Mr. Bean, Mr. Hulot blithely moves about unconscious of the havoc he leaves in his wake, but all of us cause havoc somewhere at some point and are unaware of it. Sometimes it's serious havoc. Have you never seen near accidents on the highway where the "cause" goes merrily on his way? Of course some accidents are bad, but often accidents are funny. Unlike Mr. Bean, Mr. Hulot does not seem to be lonely. He actually has a nice time with the beautiful blonde--well he mostly does, but if he fails to connect on an occasion or two it's not for lack of interest on her part. And, Mr. Hulot is quite a good tennis player who makes a friend of the tennis coach (and impresses the blonde). Probably the thing I enjoyed the most about this film was the context. What is it about vacations that brings out insanity?? The opening scenes as everyone heads to the beach are hilarious. I too have nearly missed trains in Europe from being on the wrong side of the track. However, there are some wonderful tranquill scenes too. The sound of the waves pounding the surf at night under a full moon, and the clear sunny sky by day, as well as the happy mood of the vactioners--especially the children--is enough to put anyone in a good mood. I love this little film and I'm going to watch it over and over. I'll buy more Tati DVDs too, since I don't have a car payment to worry about."
Gentle, unique, sublime
keviny01 | 04/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a jaded, blase movie viewer who was completely disarmed by this gentle, sweet, thoroughly entertaining French comedy. Though the film is often described as "slapstick", it is the subtle, sublime comedic touches in the movie that endear me the most. Watch Hulot's stunned expression when he is greeted good morning for the first time in the hotel after having been given the cold shoulder by others. Watch the chef who starts cutting thin slices of meat but decides to cut bigger slices when he sees a more rotund customer walks by. In one scene, Hulot inadventently removes a bookmark from a book that someone is reading; moments later, the reader feverishly flips through the pages to find it. During the scene where the radio plays La Marceillaise, everyone in the room stands up as if to salute; mais non! They are just turning in, ignoring the anthem. Some of these moments could easily be missed or ignored, since they are not made "obvious" as a lesser director would do, but made at just the right tone that befits the gentle nature of the film. There are some bigger gags, of course, including a boisterous "firework" scene near the end. But the majority of the film is consist of one light humorous touch after another. Thus, it's a film that rewards the observant viewer. And home video provides a perfect means for repeat viewings, which this film is best appreciated with. Although Tati's MON ONCLE (also available as a Criterion DVD) is generally considered to be thematically and artistically superior, it is M. HULOT'S HOLIDAY, I believe, that best showcases Tati's unique comedic universe.This Criterion DVD runs 87 minutes, and it fails to mention that the original French version was over 110 minutes. The black-and-white picture quality is superb. English subtitles are optional. Also included on the DVD is the 1936 short film SOIGNE TON GAUCHE that starred Tati as a would-be boxer."
A classic that will grow on you as long as you live
Kevin S. Moody | 03/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the most beloved movies by affictionados of the foreign film scene. Tati provided a brilliant link between the best of what the silent movie era and modern film had to offer. It is a relatively simple tale of a bumbling man on vacation on the coast of France. But repeated viewings, especially over the years, opens up more and more treasures that were heretofore unrecognized, like a classic novel. I would be surprised if anyone would rave about this film the first time they watch it. I certainly didn't. But repeat viewings over the years will give you an appreciation of this film that borders on worship. Every member of my extended family loves this movie, and everyone has there own particular reason. Some love it for its ability to perfectly capture a foreign time and place, allowing one to feel as if they themselves have escaped to the French coast for the afternoon. Some love Hulot's awkward but endearing attempts at romance the best. Many love the brilliant sight gags that are laugh-out-loud funny no matter how many times you've seen them. But regardless of what a viewer loves the most, everyone will feel a bond with Hulot's character (and, in turn, M. Tati) that will last a lifetime. With this DVD, I can finally feel safe to loan away my beloved, grainy VHS copy. A movie classic by every meaning of the term."
M. Hulot On Vacation: A Beautiful, Gentle Film By Jacques Ta
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 03/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Chaos follows Monsieur Hulot like tin cans tied to your ankle. He's a lanky, awkward, well-intentioned innocent to whom things just naturally happen, and to whom things happen to those around him. Hulot is the creation of Jacques Tati, a genius of film if there ever was one. Tati creates movies of endless sight gags, but that term is too coarse to describe what Tati does. With Hulot and those he encounters, things are never what they seem. The usual and the commonplace grow into sources of humor that sometimes are quick and sometimes are carefully nurtured. What makes discussing Tati difficult, at least for me, is that the more I try to describe what he does, the more mundane it seems. I'll show you. A small child gives some money to an ice cream vendor and receives two cones. The child then carefully climbs the too-steep stairs to the entrance of a small hotel, carefully, carefully checking at each step to be sure he's got the cones upright so the ice cream won't fall off. The scene is funny in a good-natured way because of the child's intensity. Or Hulot encounters a kayak on the beach, sits down in it and notices a pot of paint next to him. He picks up the brush and starts daubing. The waves come in, the pot drifts out, then drifts back in time for Hulot, without looking, to get more paint on the brush. The pot drifts out again on the next wave, but then drifts back on the other side of the kayak. Sounds dull to me, but Tati turns it into an exquisite moment of good intentions, mystifying discovery and immaculate timing.
With M. Hulot's Holiday, Monsieur Hulot arrives at the small Hotel de la Plage in a French oceanside resort town. He's taking his annual vacation and the hotel is filled with other guests. From then until Hulot and the guests check out at end of their stay, we observe one sight gag after another slowly building and popping until we know who all these people are. There's the young boy whose father is always on the phone to a stockbroker, or the waiter who is perpetually resentful, or the young woman who dances with Hulot, or the elderly couple who take strolls, where she finds beautiful discoveries in the grass and he, without her seeing, quickly discards them. There are no close-ups, just medium shots as if we were there, too, watching what's going on. Dogs, cars, tires, horses, magnifying glasses, ping pong balls all have their moments. There are probably no more than a couple dozen lines of dialogue. One thing after another happens, and especially to Hulot...Hulot on the tennis courts...Hulot going riding...Hulot in the drawing room...Hulot at the funeral...Hulot with the fireworks. It's hard not to watch this movie without a smile on your face.
We realize that for all his good intentions, Hulot doesn't really fit in with this petit bourgeois group of vacationers. Yet as many funny frustrations and misunderstandings happen to these people as happen to Hulot. By the end of the movie we know most of the guests almost as well as we know Hulot. We also find ourselves admiring Hulot's indomitable innocence and good will. I felt a little sad and poignant at the close of the film.
For those unfamiliar with Tati and his few films, this is a good one to start with; so would be My Uncle. Tati himself was not as fortunate as his creation. His meticulous approach meant years would pass between films. My Uncle didn't appear until 1958. Nine years went by before Playtime was released. Playtime was horrendously expensive and made little money. Tati was forced into bankruptcy. In order finance Traffic (1971), he put up as collateral the rights to all his previous films. Traffic failed and Tati lost control of his life's work.
This Criterion DVD looks just fine. It includes several extras including an introduction by Terry Jones and a short from the Thirties which starred Tati. M. Hulot's Holiday, sometimes listed as Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot, is a wonderful, gentle, beautiful movie. I highly recommend it."
A Comedy of Memory
K. Garner | the midwest | 06/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I first saw "Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot" many years ago, I couldn't understand what was the big deal. The film had its amusing moments - Hulot's Amilcar bouncing down the road and that tennis game! - but it seemed too slight for all the adjectives that critics had bestowed upon it. After getting the DVD two years ago (before it was temporarily discontinued), I watched it again and saw an entirely different movie. The slightness that had bored me when I was teenager had changed into a feeling of wistfulness - the sense that we're watching a transient, quickly passing moment in people's lives. Tati's comedy, much more gentle than most American comedies, reveals itself only in multiple viewings. The film is more like a comic meditation on memory: how our all-too-brief periods of leisure open up and close possbilities for friendship, love, and other human interactions. This is a film to revisit again and again."