Laurent Tirard / France/Belgium /2009 / 91 min
Le Petit Nicolas is the sweet story of a little boy with an idyllic life, whose overactive imagination leads him to misinterpret a conversation between his parents. Kids, eh? Mischief ensues as he and his friends plot to get rid of the baby that Nicolas is convinced is about to arrive.
Based on the comic books of René Goscinny (illustrated by Jean-Jacques Sempé), the film is narrated by Maxime Godart (who plays Little Nic). Keeping the charm of the original character, Godart is instantly heart-warming (without being cheesy), as are the other boys. Victor Carles (Clotaire) is particularly memorable as the sleepy class dunce. The reason the ensemble works so well is because none of the actors overplay their roles as stock characters; instead they preserve a warm, likeable edge to their stereotypes. There are also some nice little touches in this film; the opening credits contain the original artwork from the comic, styled by Kuntzel+Deygas, the same team responsible for the opening sequence in Catch Me If You Can. It’s a nice nod to the original creators – something one doesn’t see too often with adaptations. It means that Laurent Tirard has created a stylish film about the nostalgia of childhood that is accessible for children and intelligent enough for adults.
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