My Father the Hero (1994) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The film has a very cute premise. Gerard Depardieu is a divorced, absentee, neglectful dad who decides to make one more stab at a relationship with his daughter by taking her on a dream vacation to the Bahamas. Teen girls being the way they are, the daughter (Katherine Heigl) wants to be more sophisticated than she really is, so decides to impress the locals by telling them that Depardieu is her lover, a noted French criminal who rescued her from a life of crime and child prostitution. Depardieu, of course, has no idea what his daughter has been telling people, so he can't understand why he is being treated with such scorn by the locals, who think he is a criminal pederast.

The film gives Depardieu a chance to do the one thing he can do capably in English - play the clueless buffoon - and he does it quite well, generating more than a few uncomfortable laughs at Talent Night, when he sings Thank (or "Sank") Heaven for Little Girls, unaware of the extra layers of meaning added by his daughter's fabrications. Eventually, Depardieu's desire to please his daughter gets him involved in the lies as well.


Katherine Heigl appears in a one piece swimsuit which does not cover her bottom at all.

The critics didn't care for it, but it's a pretty cute film, an easy enough watch when you want to turn your brain off, and the young Katherine Heigl, small-chested and slim-hipped, a 15 year old playing the part of a 14 year old, appeared absolutely adorable as the headstrong and resentful daughter, which more than compensated for her rudimentary acting ability.

The only thing really wrong with the film is that it is Disneyfied (produced by Touchstone, distributed by Buena Vista), so it didn't manage to exploit much of the humorous potential of the situation. It is therefore a satisfactory film, but one which failed to reach the potential of a truly excellent comic premise because it watered everything down to get a PG. The puritans in the USA wanted it to be watered down even more. They weren't even satisfied with this milk-and-cookies interpretation of the story, and many complained that Heigl's young body was exploited by the lurid camera work in one scene, which focused on her butt in a swimsuit which didn't cover any of her glutes at all. (This was essential for the comic premise of the scene, in which a shocked Depardieu keeps trying to cover her up.)

Is it a good enough film to make twice? I don't know. I haven't seen the French version, but there was one. It came three years earlier, and also starred Depardieu as the father, with Marie Gillain as the daughter. By all accounts, the American version is virtually the same movie, which leads one to wonder why they didn't just let Depardieu dub the French version.

I think that the French version must be better for two reasons:

1. The French are much more adult and sophisticated at handling dangerously racy material like this.

2. I have to assume you can understand Depardieu when he speaks French.

Whatever the logic behind the remake, it worked, because the modestly budgeted film overcame negative reviews and earned $25 million at the Box Office, thus turning a nice profit for everyone.

The Critics Vote

  • American version : one and a half stars. Ebert 2/4, Berardinelli 1.5/4.

  • I couldn't find any English language reviews online for the French version.

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary, American version. IMDb voters score it 5.1/10
  • IMDB summary, French version. IMDb voters score it 6.2/10
  • Box Office. The American version grossed a solid and profitable $25 million.


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this film is a C. It's not consistently funny, but is kind of cute as an offbeat romantic comedy.

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