Released in 2014, “What we did to the Good God” is a very big box-office success of French cinema. However, the United States did not wish to distribute it on their territory. Why ?
What did we do to the good Lord? : the biggest French success of 2014
Before What did we do to the good Lord?, Philippe de Chauveron was already an experienced director who started his cinematographic career at the end of the 80s. In 2011, he finally obtained a certain notoriety by directing Student Ducobu, adaptation of the famous eponymous comic book by Godi and Zidrou. The film will also get a sequel entitled Ducobu’s Holidays. A year later, he is preparing his fifth feature film based largely on his personal and cultural experiences.
Indeed, the screenwriter Guy Laurent and he discover, with supporting statistics, that the French are the world champions of mixed marriage. Also inspired by their own experience (his brother married a woman of North African origin, while he himself married “a black and Muslim woman”), they are therefore directing their next film: What did we do to the good Lord?.
The director surrounds himself with real headliners for comedy, Christian Clavier and Chantal Lauby in the lead. They are accompanied by actors such as Ary Abittan, Medi Sadoun, Frédéric Chau, Noom Diawara, Frédérique Bel, Julia Piaton, Émilie Caen, Élodie Fontan, Élie Semoun and Pascal Nzonzi. As for the synopsis, What did we do to the good Lord? follows Claude and Marie Verneuil, a very “old France” couple from the Catholic upper middle class. Their lack of openness is however undermined since three of their four daughters have brought back as sons-in-law men who are not really “pure French”, according to them. Their only “hope” therefore rests on the last of their daughters. Only, although her fiancé is Catholic (something they have always wanted for their future son-in-law), he is of Ivorian origin.
Controversy in the United States
Compared by some critics to famous popular comedies such as The Adventures of Rabbi Jacob or Welcome to the Ch’tis, What did we do to the good Lord in any case rose to their rank, commercially speaking. Thus, Philippe de Chauveron’s film totaled 12.3 million admissions (19 million worldwide). The film also grossed 78.1 million euros, which makes him one of the twenty best feature films in the history of the French box office.
However, this totally crazy popularity in France and in Europe was not the same across the Atlantic. Thus, the American distributors, after viewing, would have refused to broadcast the film in their dark rooms. The reason ? His humor deemed politically incorrect, even racist. So mock the origins of people also for free? Nay, in view of the Anglo-Saxon mentality who thinks that you can’t laugh at anything and everything.
In any case, this is how Sabine Chemaly, the international sales director of TF1 (who co-produces the film) interpreted it during her interview with the magazine. Point :
They have a very different cultural approach from ours. Our contacts found it politically incorrect. Today they would never allow themselves to laugh at blacks, Jews or Asians. They are obviously excited by the success of the film, but they refuse to broadcast it as is. They know that this will immediately create too much controversy among them.
This controversy, however, did not prevent the film from becoming a real saga since two other parts were born thereafter: a second part released in 2019, and another that will see the light of day in 2022.