1676657718 James Huth and the New Toy The revival of

James Huth and the New Toy | The revival of a cult film

(Paris) Jamel Debbouze and Daniel Auteuil take on the roles created by Pierre Richard and Michel Bouquet in Francis Veber’s reinterpretation of a comedy that has gone down in history. Led by Brice de Nice director James Huth, The New Toy finds new relevance more than 45 years after the original film’s release. Interview.

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When producer Richard Grandpierre asked him to write and direct a new version of the comedy The Toy, James Huth’s initial reaction was the same as anyone asked to reinterpret a great classic. Why repeat 45 years later a film that has already firmly inscribed itself in the collective imagination and that has marked the childhood of generations of viewers, including that of the filmmaker?

“I told him he was completely insane! he confides in an interview granted to La Presse during the Rendez-vous du cinema français by Unifrance, which took place recently in Paris. However, Richard still asked me to review the original film by Francis Veber. Watching this cult comedy through my adult eyes made me realize how difficult the subject matter was.

The toy is a biting satire of society. This is probably Veber’s strongest film.

James Huth, Director

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James Huth, who had a glittering career as a dentist before dropping everything to get into the movies – ‘You only have one life to live! ‘ he says – still had to find a place in the original story to add a new dimension. And make this “new” toy an absolutely up-to-date work. Thus, the relationship between this 12-year-old boy (Simon Faliu) and his father (Daniel Auteuil), the richest man in France, is explored from that disturbing moment when the son is choosing a gift for his birthday, Sami (Jamel Debbouze), the caretaker of his father’s department store. And makes him his toy…

“The themes dealt with in this story are even more relevant today than they were then,” affirms the man who, thanks to Brice de Nice, quickly established himself in the field of comedy in cinema. In a society where the social gap between rich and poor is widening, can money buy everything? When Francis Veber wrote his film, we weren’t talking about the concept of the child king. By approaching the same story from a different, more contemporary angle, I found a reason for being in it. »

James Huth and the New Toy The revival of


Jamel Debbouze, Simon Faliu and Daniel Auteuil in The New Toy.

Daniel Auteuil was first approached to play the role of an immensely wealthy and powerful widower who doesn’t really know how to handle relations with his young son. The actor suggested Jamel Debbouze, with whom he had long wanted to work, to play the role of the “toy” created by Pierre Richard at the time.

“Having grown up in a city, Jamel was able to draw on his childhood memories to bring depth and truth to the family life his character leads,” explains James Huth. We wanted to show the suburbs what is beautiful too, with their values ​​of mutual aid, solidarity, humanity. Sami’s words are Jamel’s. This is the first time he has taken on such a role. We see in this film how incredible Jamel is and how he can really play anything. His emotional potential is insane. »

The elbow room

In the development of this new version of the toy, which was notably the subject of an American version (starring Richard Pryor and Jackie Gleason) in 1982, James Huth and Sonia Shillito, his faithful collaborator, were given free rein to the extent that Francis Veber was not in any way involved in the project involved. However, the author of The Goat and the Dîner de cons had the opportunity to see The New Toy after the feature film was finished.

We were in our little shoes because Francis [Veber] can sometimes have a very hard tooth. But he really liked our film. He said, “I made a tree, they made a Christmas tree out of it.”

James Huth, Director

“It was still nice because the last compliment he gave anyone was in 1989, I think,” the filmmaker recalls with a laugh. Seriously, Francis is the greatest French screenwriter next to Michel Audiard. These two really sit at the top. »

1676657713 27 James Huth and the New Toy The revival of


James Huth and Jamel Debbouze on the set of the film The New Toy, inspired by the feature film written and directed by Francis Veber in 1976

Revealed in 1998 thanks to Serial Lover, his first feature film, James Huth is also one of those rare directors whose filmography is essentially comedy.

“I wanted to do a thriller after Brice de Nice, but they made me understand that the film had gone too well and that I had to continue comic-style. That said, if I have to limit myself to a single register, comedy suits me very well. Coming from a medical background myself and having visited many emergency services, I know a day of laughter is saved. Having no ego, I have no problem evolving in the least recognized part of cinema, even though comedy is the most difficult genre. »

The new toy hits theaters on February 24th.

Travel expenses were covered by Unifrance.