Directed by Steve Miner/1994
Street Date for Blu-Ray: April 3, 2018/Kino Lorber Studio Classics
A remake of the 1991 French film Mon père, ce héros, by Gérard Lauzier, My Father the Hero features Gerard Depardieu, who also appeared in Mon père, ce héros in the same role. Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray release is being dubbed a Special Edition, but doing so seems to set the disc up for a considerable let down as the only extras are the original theatrical trailer, and and audio commentary by director Steve Miner.
In the opening shot of the film we see the landing of the famous Concorde jet which was retired in 2003 following a plane crash in Paris in 2000. Andre (Depardieu-Last Holiday, The Man in the Iron Mask) is flying into New York City to pick up his daughter Nicole (Katherine Heigl (27 Dresses, Knocked Up) to go on a vacation together. When he arrives at his ex-wife Megan’s (Lauren Hutton-American Gigolo) apartment he is warned by her that Nicole is not the sweet little girl he remembers from when he last visited.
As soon as Nicole is on-screen, we see the start of the conflict that will carry throughout the film. As a 14-year old, Nicole already believes she is grown up. She refuses to speak French anymore to her father and now insists on calling him Andre. She belittles his piano playing, and seems disgusted no matter what is said or done. This is just in the 5 minutes of him showing up to pick up her to the time they are heading back downstairs to get into the cab. Megan shouts, “You see what I’ve been dealing with?” as she puts Andre and Nicole into the cab so they can head off to the Bahamas.
The vacation starts off as more teen-age attitude from Nicole and exasperation from Andre until Nicole notices Ben (Dalton James-Encino Man), an attractive 17-year old who works at the resort. Soon, she is trying to get Ben’s attention, but he has no interest for a little kid. Lying, she tells him she’s 18.
To avoid the embarrassment of saying she’s on vacation with her father, she makes up the awkward lie that Andre is her French lover. This spreads all across the resort where Andre, ever the friendly man, is viewed by all as a pervert, all as he is oblivious to the reasons why they are being rude to him. This running gag comes to a head when he takes the piano for the resort talent show and sings a version of “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” from Gigi, where it becomes the last straw for all of the residents who believe he is singing about his cradle-robbing ways that they have mistakenly seen on display.
His daughter also seeks to distract him from her plans by introducing him to a single woman named Diana (Faith Prince-The Last Dragon, Dave), even though Andre has a girlfriend back in Paris that did not come on the trip, for reasons that are made plain later in the story.
Through a series of escalating lies, and awkward situations, Andre then learns the truth and begins to play along with the lies with the promise from his daughter that she will tell Ben the truth. How will Ben take the truth once he knows he’s been lied to the whole time? Will Andre successfully deal with the situation he left back home with his girlfriend? Will he and his daughter truly reconnect? Will Nicole learn the consequences of lying? These are all pretty standard questions that arise and are resolved in a film like this.
While this film follows a basic formula, Gerard Depardieu makes it all at least entertaining, bringing a light whimsical air to it all. He understands that a film like this is meant to do just exactly that and his charm goes a long way to ingratiate the viewer the story at large.
Heigl, even at age 16 (her age when filming, not the character’s age of 14), hits the right notes as the spoiled teenager, but after years of hearing about her diva-like behavior and the reputation of being difficult to work with, I had to wonder if this character was a good acting job, or confirmation of her true self coming through in the role. I would hope it would be the former, but seeing this film through the lens of 2018 is much different than when it came out in 1994.
This film is now available on Blu-ray through Kino Lorber and for those who remember it fondly, or that enjoy 1990’s era comedy, this will serve as a good addition to their film collection.