1. “On sait jamais, sur un malentendu, ça peut marcher”
“We never know, with a misunderstanding, that could all work out”
The movie: Les Bronzés font du ski, 1979, by Patrice Leconte
My translation: “The Suntanned go skiing”
The context: A group of friends goes on ski vacations. Jean Claude Dusse, hardboiled bachelor with a relatively unattractive appearance, gives his recommendation on how to hit on a woman to his friend Bernard Morin who also hasn’t been blessed with good look. He tells him how he should “dive in headlong” without asking himself questions, hoping that things could turn well for him thanks to a misunderstanding.
2. “Jour, Nuit”
The movie: Les Visiteurs, 1993, by Patrice Leconte
The translation: “Timewarp”
The context: A 12th century knight and his servant travel through time by mistake and end up into the house of their descendants. During their first diner, the servant is very well engrossed by the power of electricity.
3. “Itineris, je ne te capte plus”
“Itineris, I do not get you anymore”
The movie: “Asterix et Obelix Mission Cleopatre”; 2002
The translation: “Asterix and Obelix meets Cleopatra”
The context: Asterix and Obelix travel to Egypt to help Numerobis building a sumptuous palace for Cleopatra. All Egyptian characters have a name finishing by “is” to refer to the old Egyptian culture. Itineris is one of them. Thus, “Itineris” also used to be the main cell phone provider in France. At one point, the conversation in between Itineris and Numberobis cuts off because Itineris cannot get the network.
4. “Il me manquait quelque chose pour sortir les poubelles”
“I didn’t have anything to wear to take the trash down”
The movie: “Le Père Noël est une ordure”; 1982
The translation: “Mixed Nuts” (also this one is an American Film)
The context: Pierre and Therese are two volunteers at a telephone helpline for lonely people in distress. On that Christmas night, they are going to deal with the most unexpected situations. Pierre will also get a pretty mop lookalike kind of knitted jacket from Therese. Perfect to take the trash down. “Thank you Therese, I was just telling myself yesterday night that I really needed something to take the trash down”.
5. “Jesus, Jesus revient” (song)
“Jesus, Jesus, come back”
The movie: “La Vie est un long fleuve tranquille”, 1988
Translation: “Life is a long quiet river”
The context: In a maternity clinic, two children are switched at birth by a jealous nurse. Twelve years later, the mistake is brought to life to the families, one very much upper-class and conservative and to the other one poor and ill-mannered. “Jesus, Jesus revient” is the song sang by the children of the upper-class family at the end of the school year. It is a very satirical dig into the French Catholic bourgeoisie.
6. “Emmanuelle, si tu bois de l’eau froide après ton potage chaud, tu vas faire sauter l’email de tes dents !”
“Emmanuelle, if you drink cold water of eating your hot soup, your teeth enamel will chip off”
The movie: “La Vie est un long fleuve tranquille”, 1988 (same as above)
The context: what is important to know is that this movie is full of noteworthy sentences. They are mainly funny because of the hilarious tone taken by actors.
7. “ Votre prénom à vous c’est François c’est juste. Et ben lui c’est pareil c’est Juste.”
“Your name is France, that’s right. So that’s the same for him, his name is Juste”
The Movie: “Le diner de cons”, 1998
Translation: “The dinner game”
The context: Pierre Brochant attends an “idiot dinner” every week, where guests have to bring along someone “stupid” and to elect the stupidest of all. Unfortunately Pierre is stricken with dorsalgia. When Pignon, his “stupid gem” arrives at his apartment, a succession of events will create the most extravagant situations. Pignon will have to make a series of phone calls. One of them to Juste Leblanc (“Juste” is a first name) but “juste” also means “only” or “just” leading Pignon to think Juste Leblanc has no first name and only his surname “Leblanc”.
8. “ Alors, on attend pas Patrick?”
“Hey! You’re not even waiting for Patrick?”
The Movie: “Camping”, 2006
The context: Every summer, the same little tribe finds each others back at the campsite “Les Flots Bleus” in the south-west of France. Patrick Chirac is one of them. With his teenager look, form-hugging pink teeshirt and tight-fitting bathing suits, Patrick keeps on acting as a seducer. His forthrightness and plainness makes him a funny and endearing character.
9. “Xavier is gone to school” “ Ah! Il est à la fac!” “What? La fuck?”
“Xavier is gone to school” “Oh, he is at the “fac”” “What? At the fuck?”
The Movie: “L’Auberge Espagnole”, 2002
Translation: “The Spanish Apartment”
The context: Xavier, a French student, studies abroad in Spain for one year. Over there, he lives with a group of other students from all over Europe in a big apartment of Barcelona. Wendy, the British girl, picks up the phone. Xavier’s mum would like to talk to him but he is in school. The university is commonly called “fac” (from “faculty”) what sounds pretty much similar to “fuck” to an English ear.
Note: You can very easily find this movie with English subtitles. Watch it!
10. “Pas de bras, pas de chocolat”
“No arms, no chocolate”
The Movie: “Intouchables”, 2011
Translation: “The Intouchables”
The context: Well, this movie is too moving and poignant to be described in a few lines. Main idea: a rich quadriplegic hires a young man with few ambitions to become his caregiver. A strong bond quickly sets in. Take a look at the trailer down there and watch this movie urgently!