Bullies and the Bullied,
High school was a bit of a mixed experience for me. The first years were hard as I had very few friends and was bullied constantly by a few people. By contrast, the last couple of years I met some great people and we shared some amazing moments. These later years remain some of my fondest memories of school.
La Grande Classe is a fun comedy about a school reunion but the movie itself also deals with deep emotions influenced by past and present bullying giving it some surprising depth. While a bit crude at times, the humour is pretty lighthearted and is delivered well by the main cast. It’s an easy and pleasant watch and ends with a surprising (but very welcome) twist.
The story starts in the past where we see our two protagonists, Jonathan and Pierre-Yves, being bullied at school. Flash-forward to the present in Paris, both boys are now successful and have changed quite a bit in appearance. They find out that their old high school is having a reunion and decide to crash the party to show off their new lives to their old tormentors. However, the party doesn’t go as planned as old tensions resurface and Jonathan gets mistaken for his old rival.
La Grande Classe offers a decent comedy here with some good humour sprinkled throughout. While the humour itself is the main hook, what stood out for me is the story behind it. School bullying and, of course the friendships you make there, can affect people in many ways and shape the person you’ll become after leaving school. Jonathan and Pierre-Yves’ friendship has lasted all these years, through thick and thin, and is something that’s quite rare, adding an emotional touch to the movie. Seeing them deal with their old bullies and having the tables turned to their advantage is strangely satisfying too.
Both actors have good chemistry, but it is really Ludovik’s acting that stood out for me. They both manage to portray their lasting bond really well and deliver their one-liners quite skillfully. The humour is sometimes a bit crude as mentioned before and this means the film may not be for everyone. However, for me the film nails the balance well, and I laughed out loud quite a few times during my watch with this.
The pacing is good too and with the whole movie set during the school reunion, La Grande Classe doubles down on its script instead of production design to deliver genuinely funny moments and diverse characters. The solitary setting is a smart choice too, and mainly because the movie feels the right length of time, clocking in at just under 90 minutes.
One thing to note is the English Dubbing which really isn’t very good. I’d highly recommend watching this in French thanks to the nuance of the language and punchline for the jokes, which are completely lost in the dubbing.
Having grown up in Belgium, I know first-hand that one of the things French people excel at are comedies. La Grande Classe may not be the best comedy out there, but it is an enjoyable one, well worth a watch thanks to the two main actors working really well together. The film does touch on some serious matters too, but it does it with a lighthearted tone to prevent the film feeling preachy. The heart-warming message is simple – don’t listen to bullies and fight to become who you really want to be.
Verdict - 7/10