‘Serial Teachers 2’ (‘Les Profs 2’): Film Review

French comic star Kev Adams toplines this big budget boarding school comedy

4 million Frenchmen can’t be wrong, can they?

That was the question one had to ask after the supremely infantile comic book adaptation, Serial Teachers (Les Profs), became a local breakout hit in the summer of 2013, raking in the equivalent of over $35 million at the French box office.

The Bottom Line

The “prof” is not in the pudding in this UK-set sequel to the French box office hit

Trying to outdo the first film in terms of both production budget and jokes catering to the lowest common denominator (or else the lowest age group above the diaper range), Serial Teachers 2 (Les Profs 2) offers up much, much more of the same, transferring the team of wacky Gallic instructors to a draconian UK boarding school where they’ve been brought in to reform the Queen’s rebellious granddaughter.

It’s a concept that tosses tons of money and countless “franglais” one-liners (ex. “You talkin’ to moi?”) at what’s essentially a vehicle for France’s favorite new funnyman – 24-year-old standup star Kev Adams. Whether Adams is actually funny remains open to debate, though kids ages 14 and under seem to be highly amused by a comic talent whose main attribute seems to be his mass of frizzy hair. Certainly, he’s still the toast of the town at home, where the sequel nabbed the best opening for a French film since 2008, rocking local theaters as school lets out for the summer.

Cups of tea, bowls of beans, Gregorian chants and references to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts abound in writer-director Pierre Francois Martin-Laval’s glossy and headachy comedy, which brings the wolf pack of inept teachers, and their favorite feckless pupil, Boulard (Adams), to a British public school whose students include Vivienne (Gaia Weiss from the TV series Vikings), a punk-rebel-loner set to inherit the crown.

Back in action are the crazy unilingual English teacher, Gladys (Isabelle Nanty), the lazy math professor, Cutiro (Didier Bourdon, replacing Christian Clavier), the patriotic history buff, Polochon (Martin-Laval), the sadistic gym coach, Eric (Arnaud Ducret), the tongue-twisting philosopher, Maurice (Raymond Bouchard), the bungling scientist (Fred Tousch) – cue at least three exploding test tube gags – and definitely the film’s most problematic source of laughs: the nubile French literature expert, Amina (Stefi Celma), who sports a miniskirt and afro, and whose every entrance is accompanied by generic ‘70s funk on the soundtrack.

If you find any of these characters funny, or if you enjoy random fart gags (thus the beans), Napoleon-themed penis jokes or puns like “Anglo-Saxophone,” then Serial Teachers 2 may be up your alley. Otherwise, at best one can try to appreciate the budding romance between class clowns Boulard and Vivienne, with Adams fighting to give the audience something beyond his usual broad hijinks, and Weiss remaining somewhat convincing as a purebred Brit who, like everyone else, mostly speaks in French. (The filmmakers set the language rule early on, but it’s hardly plausible.)

In the least, Martin-Laval gets busy with the movie’s alleged €16 million ($18 million) pocketbook, allowing regular DP Regis Blondeau to indulge in endless crane and aerial shots, while production designer Franck Schwarz makes extensive use of the picturesque school setting. The result is a film that, like its predecessor, is flashy, lively and incredibly stupid. It gets high marks in the various craft departments while failing everywhere else. But whoever said you needed good grades to make money?

Production companies: Les Films du Premier, TF1 Films Production, TF1 Droits Audiovisuels, UMedia
Cast: Kev Adams, Isabelle Nanty, Didier Bourdon, Pierre Francois Martin-Laval, Gaia Weiss
Director: Pierre Francois Martin-Laval
Screenwriters: Pierre Francois Martin-Laval, Mathias Gavarry, based on the comic book “Les Profs” by Pica and Erroc
Producer: Romain Rojtman
Director of photography: Regis Blondeau
Production designer: Franck Schwarz
Costume designer: Eve-Marie Arnault
Editors: Thibault Damade, Claire Fieschi
Composers: Matthieu Gonet, Concrete Knives
International sales: TF1 International

No rating, 92 minutes