Philippe Lacheau and Julien Arruti return to the origins of their new film.
Update of June 13, 2022: Whereas Despite himself superheroes is now available on DVD and blu-ray, a look back at the creation of La Bande à Fifi’s new comedy (Babysitting, Alibi.com…). At the beginning of the year, Philippe Lacheau and Julien Arruti presented this Marvel super-production parody project in First. Flashback.
Interview of January 17, 2022: Back to Alpe d’Huez! After a 2021 vintage canceled due to Covid, the Isère International Comedy Film Festival is back in great shape this evening. On the program for the opening of this 25th edition, Philippe Lacheau and his whole gang, who came to present a preview Despite himself superheroes. The story of Cédric (Lacheau), a failed actor who, by chance, lands a role in a superhero film. After borrowing the filming car, he is the victim of an accident that causes him to lose his memory. Still dressed in the costume and surrounded by the accessories of the film, he really believes he is a masked vigilante… After his adaptation of Nicky Larson, Philippe Lacheau returns to the slaughter of schoolboy gags with a funny object, somewhere between romantico-parodic comedy and action film. A mix of genres told by the actor/director and his friend Julien Arruti.
How does a Fifi gang film come about? Is it a concept above all?
Philippe Lacheau : There is no rule. The idea of Despite himself superheroes, we had it at least five or six years ago. Except that at the base, it was not a question of making a film on superheroes but more of diverting The memory in the skin. We said to ourselves that there was an axis of comedy to be found with the subject of amnesia and therefore at the base, it was a real parody of Jason Bourne : the story of an actor who was shooting a spy movie, lost his memory and really thought he was a spy. While writing it, we said to ourselves that for the sequel, he was going to relive the same thing but on the set of a superhero film.
Julien Arruti : And in fact the idea was so good that we started from the beginning, we rewrote everything.
PL : We found it funnier and crazier to talk about superheroes. And above all, it brought us a whole universe.
That’s why the film is not a real parody of superhero films, as one might think.
PL : No, what interested us most was the story of memory loss.
JA : It’s the “in spite of himself” that we thought was cool. More than making a real superhero movie.
PL : And that makes the story a little more original than a simple parody, with a loser superhero… And then it had already been done a little bit with Hancock. The subject was wrung out.
JA : It may speak more to everyone to have as main character an everyday guy who thinks he’s a superhero.
As Nicky Larson, Despite himself superheroes contains many action scenes. It’s something quite new in your films.
PL : But each time it lent itself to the subject. It’s not a desire to do action for the sake of action, to force the scenario so that it fits. However, it’s true that we like it, it brings back ” production value ” as they say. It’s a bonus: the goal is first to make people laugh. I know that in the United States, in productions like Fast & Furious, they start by defining the big action scenes of the film, and then they build the story around it. We don’t do that, but it’s true that a scene that we think is cool, we’ll try to put it in the film.
JA : On the other hand, it happens that scenes are built around a valve. When you have a great gag, you say to yourself that you have to succeed in including it. But in a natural way, so that it’s not far-fetched. Especially for me (He laughs rubbing his bald head).
But the arrival of action in your cinema is very fitting with your often slapstick-based humor.
JA : What do you call that?
the slap stick, a form of physical humor. Is that something you think about a lot?
PL : To tell you the truth, I would prefer that we were better in the valves of dialogues.
Because in your mind it’s less noble, “physical” humor?
PL : No, because it costs less! Frankly, if you’re good at text valves, you only put punchlines and the film is hilarious, I buy. Because you shoot much faster and the film costs much less money! We have a problem – well, I don’t know if it’s a problem – it’s that the valves that come to us are rather visual and complicated to make. So we take a lot of time to turn them. So sometimes we try to find more punchlines.
JA : But I also believe that when people come to see our films, they also expect to see gags, burlesque…
Are you always aware of what will make your audience laugh? Do you think of your films like that?
JA : No, we are already thinking about what makes us laugh… and we are crossing our fingers that the public will like it.
PL : And when we have finished the script, we make predictions about what will make the most laughter in the film. We annotate the script and it’s fun to see who screwed up.
Nicky Larson – Philippe Lacheau: “Comedy is not an exact science”
Did you design Despite himself superheroes like a sort of throwback, after Nicky Larson who was not the expected card?
PL: No. And then there are plenty of possible analyzes on Nicky Larson. When we announced the movie, we got screwed like it had never happened. We were shocked. It was hard to shoot with that in mind. But the tide changed once the film was released. We are asked the question all the time today: “QWhen will there be a sequel? “Let’s say that we may have gotten off to a bad start, that we took a long time to convince people.
JA : We were disappointed but we put things into perspective a bit when we contacted professionals in the field who told us that there aren’t many French films that have 1.7 million admissions. We were a bit like spoiled children, used to making two or three million.
PL : And then – let’s say these are excuses from mytho – but there was spectacular weather in February 2019, it was 20 degrees! And you know that when the weather is nice like this, attendance plummets. If there hadn’t been three weeks of good weather – and Sony tells us so – we would have made the two million. in addition Alita and Escape Game were released at the same time and they were aimed at the same audience.
What is your target, exactly? Who is your audience?
PL : We tend to have a young audience.
JA : Teens, pre-teens.
PL : Even up to 25 years old, but in any case these are people who had not necessarily heard of Nicky Larson. The audience that knew was older, young adults with young children. And they are the ones who go to the cinema the least!
JA : The action/comedy mix was perhaps also a little confusing for the public. A lot of people must have wondered.
PL : Maybe the promise wasn’t clear. But then we discovered Nicky Larson to a whole new generation. It also perhaps brought us a new audience that didn’t watch our films, that didn’t calculate us.
It’s interesting this idea of “clear promise”, because all your films focus on an extremely defined concept.
PL : It’s true that we like concept films, the strong idea that we are going to stretch throughout a film. Maxime Saada, the boss of Canal+, told us: “ What’s good about your films is that they can be summed up in an elevator! But as a viewer, I like that too. When someone pitches me a film, I like to say to myself: Oh damn good idea, I want to see it “.
But it may also be this simplification that prevents you from expanding your audience. I feel like you have a super strong core of fans, and they’re the ones you’re really looking to please.
JA : When you write, you don’t think about that. We try to write a story that we want to see until the end, with big non-stop gags. We don’t think about the public or the target. We write as we have always written. That’s why we have an audience that follows us: we stay true to what we love to do.
PL : And if we had thought like that we would not have done Nicky Larson. Because on paper, it was not won.
JA : Maybe we’ll make a naughty movie, just to change the target (Laughter.)
PL : An erotic comedy, but family!
Philippe Lacheau filming Alibi.com 2