After learning about the character M. Hulot in the 1953 Black and White "M. Hulot's Holiday", Hulot returns again here - only this time, in color and a new location. What's similar here is the set-up; basic plot used to carry some wonderfully performed gags and jokes, with impressively little dialogue. In other words, physical comedy at its finest.
There's a few main sequences to the movie. Hulot has to pick up his nephew at school, and the kids have more than a bit of fun at his expense. They step on the backs of cars to make the driver think the following car hit them. When something actually does go wrong, Hulot is the only one around to explain. He lives a simple life - he's a simple character, much like Kevin Smith's "Silent Bob" character, although many will probably cringe at that comparison. Across town, his family, who lives in an ultra-modern household unlike his own, is doing what they can to help him.
His brother gets him a job at his factory where he attempts - and you can guess, with no success - to make pipes. The jokes again are very funny, but unlike "M. Hulot's Holiday", which ran at a mere 87 minutes, "Mon Oncle" is spaced out to nearly two hours. At that length, things begin to run a little bit thin at times, especially as the film passes the hour mark. I'll still agree that Tati as Hulot is often brilliant, but it's a little difficult even for the mightiest comedian to hold up a nearly plotless feature for two hours.
VIDEO: This is a fine effort from Crtierion, although there were some concerns that appeared throughout the transfer. Sharpness was generally not one of them, though. Sharpness and detail were fine throughout, and the picture usually looked crisp and well-defined.
As I was saying, there were several issues that came up throughout the transfer. Mainly, print flaws. Not major wear and certainly not damage, but it seeemed as if there were few scenes without at least a speckle or two. The other problem was edge enhancement, which was visible in a few scenes. I didn't notice pixelation or any other flaws. Colors were generally the best part of the presentation - they looked vibrant and not faded after all these years. It's a nice effort from Criterion, but maybe a little more restoration would have helped.
SOUND: "Mon Oncle" is presented in mono and the film sounded perfectly fine. Tati's jazzy, light score provides the perfect background for most of the scenes, and it comes through crisply and clearly. The slight sound effects and ambient sounds are also captured well. What little French dialogue there was seemed to sound natural, but I don't speak French, so I can't tell for sure.
MENUS:: Menus are non-animated, with recipe notecards serving as backgrounds.
• Video introduction by filmmaker Terry Jones (Monty Python)
• L'ecole des facteurs, the 1947 short film directed by and starring Jacques Tati
Final Thoughts: "Mon Oncle" is a funny film, but it's not as entertaining as "M. Hulot's Holiday" was. Audio/video quality was satisfying, but the video quality might have been helped by some additional slight restoration. A good rental.