La Florida (1993)

<strong class="MovieTitle">La Florida</strong> (1993)

(In French, On TV, December 2018) There are elements in La Florida that don’t require any explanations to its French-Canadian target audience but need quite a bit of unpacking for other audiences. For instance, the connection between Florida and Québec: While Florida occupies a specific place in American culture (equal part Disney, Kennedy Space Centre and two doses of “Florida Man”), it occupies a very different place in Québec’s imagination—it’s the hot sunny state where well-off retirees go spend their winters, deemphasizing the state’s significant problems and playing up its destination as, well, the middle-class Quebecker’s dream. The fun of La Florida is largely found in opposing these two conceptions of the state, as a family of coarse Quebeckers (headed by French-Canadian screen legend Remy Girard) purchases a hotel in Fort Lauderdale with dreams of making it big. Alas, they run afoul of another Quebecker with a stranglehold on the local hotel trade, as well as an American developer (hilariously played by Margot Kidder) with plans for the location. A young Marie-Josée Croze unusually provides the film’s sex appeal in a bikini. The film was a massive success back in 1993 (becoming the highest-grossing Canadian film of the year, regardless of language) and became a bit of a cultural reference in further reinforcing stereotypes about Florida. It’s still worth a look for the actors as a gentle (but predictable) comedy.

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