Text by Fiona McMurrey, selection curated by film reviewer Tancrède Delvolvé of the publication L’Avant Scène Cinéma

1. OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (2006)

Image courtesy of France Channel.

Starring Oscar winning actor Jean Dujardin, as OSS 117, the hapless French replica of James Bond, “OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies,” is an uproarious comedy set in 1955 in Cairo, a stronghold of espionage where OSS 117 must find a missing secret agent and not blow his own cover. This film is an excellent tutorial to French humor and will have you in constant fits of laughter or will teach you something about comedy à la française!

2. OSS 117: Lost in Rio (2009)

Image courtesy of France Channel.

The hilarious sequel to “OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies,” this second chapter has us follow the irreverent OSS 117 to Rio to recover microfilms containing the names of French collaborators from the former Nazi Von Zimmel. At his side is Dolores, an agent from Mossad, the Israeli secret service. What happens next are a series of comedic mishaps and OSS 117 reconsidering his own prejudices.

3. Les Randonneurs (1997)

Image courtesy of France Channel.

If you really want to test the limits of your friendship then go on an extended hiking vacation with your friends! What could possibly go wrong? A group of five friends, their respective backpacks and emotional baggage in tow, head to Corsica to go hiking - clearly they’re not the type of people to relax on vacation. The sun is bright until it’s scorching, the air is pure until they’re out of breath hiking the sumptuous landscape riddled with difficult paths that become roads to nowhere (cue the Talking Heads!). After spending only a few kilometers in each other’s company, the friend group begins to unravel and reveal intimate truths about themselves and each other. Hidden animosities, jealousies, and hiking truly can bring out the worst in people! If you love a comedy about a vacation gone wrong then this film will be perfect for you!

4. Chouchou (2003)

Image courtesy of France Channel.

Chouchou, a North African refugee is taken in by a catholic priest, Father Léon who finds him a job with a psychoanalyst, though soon after he becomes a transvestite waiter at a cabaret who causes a regular patron to fall in love with him… Let’s just say it’s complicated! Starring two icons of French comedy, Gad Elmaleh and Alain Chabat, this feel good comedy will have you rooting for a happy ending for this, initially, unlikely couple!

5. Le Retour du Héros (2018)

Image courtesy of France Channel.

Set in France in 1809, at the height of the Napoleonic wars, this period piece grapples with comedy rather than drama! Captain Neuville, played by a hilarious Jean Dujardin, a self absorbed soldier dedicated to Napoleon is preparing to marry a young woman Pauline, played by rising star Noémie Merlant, who radiates naive but romantic charisma. But as soon as he proposes the captain must report to the front lines, leaving behind his bride to be! Pauline desperately waits for a letter from her fiancé and she finally receives one, though, unbeknownst to Pauline, it’s from her sister Elisabeth, played by a charmingly shrewd Mélanie Laurent, who couldn’t bear watching her younger sister suffer. Will Pauline find out that her fiancé is less of a gentleman than she imagined? Watch this comedy for a French combination of “Pride and Prejudice,” meets “Black Adder the Third.”

6. Le Crime est Notre Affaire (2008)

Image courtesy of France Channel.

Two former agents of the secret service now peacefully but not blissfully retired, Belisarius and Prudence Beresford long for their old life of adventure and investigation. When Prudence’s aunt informs her of a murder she witnessed on a train Prudence and Belisarius are tantalized by the opportunity of a new investigation and head to the mansion of the Charpentiers, an eccentric family beleaguered by secrets. However, the agents are not at the top of their game anymore, and many mistakes ensue which makes for a brilliant comedy!