**** out of 5
Well, film noir and Noirvember is behind us now, and the next month will focus on silent comedy and holiday films. This film is only a sort-of in either category. It has dialogue, but any speaking serves mostly as sound effects to underscore the visuals of this gag-filled comic masterpiece. And the holiday is not Christmas, but a summer vacation of the sort Americans wish they could enjoy like the French do.
The first time I watched this, I didn't really get it. It was slow, with very little of the laugh-out-loud slapstick-style comedy I was familiar with. Comedy, yes, but this is not the hilariously manic-paced comedy of the Marx brothers or the wonderful eye-jabbing, face-slapping absurdity of the Stooges. The humor of Tati is far more subtle, and requires patience and attentive observation. Even then, the laugh-out-loud moments are few; this film's humor is the sort that amuses and may elicit a closed-mouth laugh every several minutes, but it is an amusement that is thoroughly satisfying and universally appealing.