|This article does not cite any sources. (December 2011) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
|Directed by||Francis Veber|
|Written by||Francis Veber|
|Music by||Vladimir Cosma|
After five years, Jean Lucas (Depardieu), is released from prison. He intends to end his criminal lifestyle, but on his release day, when he goes to the bank to open an account, he is taken hostage by François Pignon (Richard), who robs the bank and accidentally shoots Jean in the leg. However, Police commissioner Duroc (Maurice Barrier) doesn't believe Jean is a hostage, given his history of 14 bank robberies. Jean forces François to go to the police and confess to being the robber so that Jean's name would be cleared, but once they arrive at the police station, the police mistake Jean as the robber, forcing him to escape. François follows, and ends up taking him to Dr. Martin (Jean Carmet), a senile veterinarian friend of his late father, to treat his bullet wound.
François was a former chief of sales at a textile factory, which went out of business three years ago, leaving him unemployed, and his daughter Jeanne (Anaïs Bret) has been catatonic since the death of François' wife around the same time François lost his job. Not wanting to leave his daughter, he asks for Jean's help to get him a new identity so that he can escape the country. Reluctantly, Jean contacts his old friend Labib (Jean Benguigui), asking him to hook François up with a fake ID. However, upon the meeting, Labib informs François that his price for a new passport has now changed from 2,500 Francs to 500,000. However, François only made away with 84,000 Francs from the robbery. Upon learning of the truth, Labib calls Jean, threatening to take François to the police if Jean doesn't get him 500,000 Francs in 24 hours.
Jean steals a van and crashes into Labib's bar, rescuing François. François then writes a written confession for Jean to present to the police. Jean suggests François to turn himself in, for he could get away with just one year in prison. However, just as he prepares to leave, Jeanne, who has come to care for Jean, asks him to stay, breaking out of her catatony. When Jean refuses, Jeanne runs off. When François and Jean chase her, they see her run into a park, where a stranger offers her a candy and then takes her to the police after Jeanne tells him about her mother being dead and her father being in jail. Witnessing the police take away his daughter, François intends to kidnap her and leave the country, despite Jean suggesting him to turn himself in and face the one year jail time, promising that he'll visit Jeanne in the meantime.
Jean meets up with Duroc and presents him the written confession, and is vindicated. He takes a job as a locksmith, and goes to visit Jeanne in the orphanage, where she has relapsed into catatony, now even refusing to eat and speaking to him, and is being guarded by the police. Later that night, as François attempts to break the lock to break Jeanne out of the orphanage, when Jean shows up and picks the lock successfully. However, at first, Jean takes the wrong girl from the bed, and when she screams, it wakes up the police officer, who, however, trips on toys and drops her revolver, which François picks up and threatens her into directing him to Jeanne. Jean and François escape from the orphanage with Jeanne, who has gone sick from lack of food. However, Jean gets a new client in the middle of the night - an intoxicated doctor, who, after a night of partying, had lost his keys. After the doctor examines her, he discovers a very low blood pressure on her, and gives her a pill of tonicardiaque, and advises the men to feed her normally.
Jean and François break into a house for whom Jean just changed the locks, and who just left for a two-week vacation. However, in the middle of the night, when he goes to do preparations for the escape, Jean runs into Duroc, who informs him that the police have set up barricades across the country, thus he would not be able to get François and Jeanne across the border. Jean hatches a plan: They dress up and pretend to be a family - Jean being the father, François pretending to be the mother, and Jeanne, after getting her hair cut short, will act as their son, Jean-Claude. They leave for a cross-country road trip in a stolen Renault 25, and encounter a police roadblock. To get past, Jean lies to the policeman that his "wife" is pregnant and about to go in labor. The policeman in charge assigns for two motorcycle cops to escort them to the hospital, but don't leave until the orderlies arrive to ferry François inside. However, as soon as they are gone, François jumps up from the stretcher and runs for the car, with Jean covering it up as a "nervous pregnancy".
Eventually, Jean, François and Jeanne arrive at the Franco-Italian border, where Jean points out that Italy is just on the other side of the hill, and promises to visit them one day, while he intends to stay in France and start up his own life again. When François and Jeanne leave, Jean watches from distance. However, after seeing François nearly trip on the dress he's wearing as a disguise, Jean decides to accompany them.
- Pierre Richard as François Pignon
- Gérard Depardieu as Jean Lucas
- Anaïs Bret as Jeanne Pignon
- Jean Carmet as Dr. Martin, retired veterinarian
- Maurice Barrier as commissaire Duroc
- Jean Benguigui as Labib
- Roland Blanche as Labib's henchman
- Philippe Lelièvre as Duroc's assistant
- Yveline Ailhaud as policewoman
- Didier Pain as policeman with dog
- Arno Klarsfeld as journalist interviewing Lucas
- Michel Blanc as Dr. Gilbert (uncredited)
- Eric Averlant as barman (Café du Rond-Point)
- Stéphane Boucher as policeman in the van
- Patrick Massieu as policeman in the office
- Christian Sinniger as policeman in the office
The movie takes place in Bordeaux, which is located in the French department of Gironde, evident by the license plates on the cars in the movie ending with "33", which, between 1950-2009, was assigned to Gironde.