Welcome to the Sticks (2008)

Welcome to the Sticks 2008tt1064932.jpg poster

  • IMDb page: Welcome to the Sticks (2008)
  • Rate: 7.0/10 total 11,857 votes 
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Date: 27 February 2008 (Belgium)
  • Runtime: 106 min
  • Filming Location: Autoroute A7, France
  • Budget: €11,000,000(estimated)
  • Gross: €1,524,982(Belgium)(9 March 2008)
  • Director: Dany Boon
  • Stars: Kad Merad, Dany Boon and Zoé Félix
  • Original Music By: Philippe Rombi   
  • Soundtrack: Le plat pays
  • Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital
  • Plot Keyword: Bergues | Prejudice | Dialect | Post Office | Post

Writing Credits By:

    (in alphabetical order)

  • Dany Boon  writer
  • Alexandre Charlot  writer
  • Franck Magnier  writer

Known Trivia

  • With 25.5 million euros, it holds the record for the highest first-week intake of a French movie in its home country. Former record holder was Les bronzés 3: amis pour la vie.
  • With 20.2 million viewers, it is the most successful French film in France. Former distinction holder was Don’t Look Now: We’re Being Shot At.
  • Instead of using well known dialects for the German dubbed version, the dubbing studio created a completely new fictional dialect with as much similarity to the original French ch’ti dialect as possible.

Plot: Although living a comfortable life in Salon-de-Provence, a charming town in the South of France, Julie has been feeling depressed for a while… See more »  »

Story: Although living a comfortable life in Salon-de-Provence, a charming town in the South of France, Julie has been feeling depressed for a while. To please her, Philippe Abrams, a post office administrator, her husband, tries to obtain a transfer to a seaside town, on the French Riviera, at any cost. The trouble is that he is caught red-handed while trying to scam an inspector. Philippe is immediately banished to the distant unheard of town of Bergues, in the Far North of France. Leaving his child and wife behind, the crucified man leaves for his frightening destination, a dreadfully cold place inhabited by hard-drinking, unemployed rednecks, speaking an incomprehensible dialect called Ch'ti. Philippe soon realizes that all these ideas were nothing but prejudices and that Bergues is not synonymous with hell…Written by Guy Bellinger  


Synopsis: Philippe and Julie Abrams are a married couple with a young child who live in a small town in the South-East of France. Philippe works as an executive for the national post services and tries to be transferred to a different location on the sea side, thinking that Julie, who is depressed, will be happier and that their relationship will improve. Unfortunately, despite pulling some strings, he learns that other disabled candidates have priority in their choice of location and decides to pretend he is on a wheelchair to make sure he obtains a job on the French Riviera. As he gets caught by an inspector, the HR manager tells him that he is sent to the small town of Bergues in the Far North of France, to work as the director of the post office, as disciplinary action for his failed attempt of fraud. Other than being fired, he has no choice but going and Julie, very disappointed at him, refuses to join him, so they accept to live apart for the next 2 years. Both Julie and Philippe are very biased against the North of France and Julie’s senile great-uncle, reminiscing his childhood in the North during the coal-mining era of the 1930s, portrays the North as a freezing region, even during the summer, where people speak with an incomprehensible accent and all die young.

Philippe leaves the South so reluctantly that he gets caught for slow driving on the motorway. His first 24 hours in the North makes it look like his bias is true. It starts bucketing down as soon as he comes across the sign of welcome to the region, and when he meets Antoine, the postman and carillon player of the town, he can hardly understand anything he says. As Antoine accepts to invite him over for the night, knowing that he lives with his mother although in his mid-thirties, and after seeing photos of him dressed as a woman at a carnival, Philippe thinks that Antoine is gay. Very stressed out and paranoid that he might flirt with him, Philippe decides to block the door to his room with a chair. The morning after, when Philippe meets Antoine’s mother, she comes across very bossy, intrusive and cold and clearly treats Antoine like a 6-year-old. Having a taste of the local cheese (Maroilles), he clearly is not impressed. When it’s time to go to the post office, Philippe is so depressed about being there that he gets offended by a mild tease from Antoine, and talks very coldly to his other employees, Fabrice, Yann and Annabelle and even corrects their pronunciation of certain words. However, they appear understanding and invite him for some lunch at the chips van. Philippe starts to open up to them until Antoine comes back from delivering mail, looking intoxicated and unintentionally talking to Philippe with disrespect which embarasses his colleagues especially Annabelle. Philippe wants to sanction him until Antoine, Yann and Fabrice bring a van full of furniture to give Philippe for his flat. Philippe is then very grateful and decides to invite them all for a restaurant dinner in Lille. He is then completely won over by the region and the friendly and welcoming locals, learns all the essential local expressions, including bad words, and when Julie calls, he first tells her that he is all right. He tells her that the region, though not sunny, is not all that cold and that he has been welcome by the northerners. However Julie is sure that he is just saying it to reassure her and asks him not to overprotect her. Philippe then states that he is going through hell and that he cannot wait to see her again down South. Julie feels guilty that Philippe’s transfer to the North is her fault, given that she pressured him so much into finding a job on the coast that he felt the need to cheat on his application, thus taking a massive risk. While enjoying working in the North, Philippe lies to his whole family and southerner friends, telling them that the region is peopled with alcoholics, that there are epidemics, that the days are very short etc. It worries Julie who starts acting more caring towards her husband than she used to. Philippe thinks that the distance is actually positive for his relationship with his wife, so doesn’t tell her the truth.

Meanwhile in the North, it was obvious from the start that Antoine is in love with the lovely Annabelle, but she has another boyfriend who is the stereotype of the biker with attitude. As Antoine once again comes back drunk from delivering mail, he witnesses him being abusive towards Annabelle. When he tries to interfere, Annabelle’s boyfriend taunts him and Antoine decides to smash his motorbike, which causes a fight that Philippe, Fabrice and Yann try to stop, but Antoine punches Philippe by accident. Given that it is not the first time that Antoine comes back drunk during service and it has come to a point where he has had a fight in front of the post office in his uniform, Philippe considers severe disciplinary action. Annabelle explains to Philippe that Antoine doesn’t dare to say no to people who offer him a drink when he delivers mail. Philippe is not satisfied. Thinking that the problem lies much deeper, he tries to discover more about his private life by saying that he knows that Antoine loves her. Annabelle reveals that she dated him for a year and was happy with him but his passiveness towards his intrusive mum strained their relationship and caused them to split up. Although Philippe thinks it is not his job, he decides to visit Antoine at the carillon and have a chat about it. He reveals to Antoine that he is in a similar position, as he lies to his wife about being happy up North. Acting as the director, he tells Antoine that he really has to stop drinking during service hours. Acting then as a friend, he encourages him to stand up to his mum, wondering if the issues in his private life are not the actual cause for his drinking. One morning, Philippe decides to join Antoine to deliver mail in order to show him how to say no while staying friendly. Funnily enough, Philippe discovers that he can’t himself turn down a drink with the friendly locals and even though Antoine is willing to resist to start with, both of them decide to celebrate their friendship, end up quite intoxicated, and when trying to race Antoine on their bicycles, Philippe skips a stop sign, is followed by the police and arrested when he has an accident. Philippe calls Julie from the police station and tells her that because he has been arrested, he can’t drive back home before the day after. Julie gets very worried at the idea that her husband might have become an alcoholic. When he visits her back South, Julie decides to pack her suitcase and join him, which puts Philippe in a very awkward position, having told her all along that he was going through hell. As they have an accident on the motorway, he takes the train up North and asks Julie to deal with the paperwork back home and take a later train. When Philippe arrives at the post office, he announces the bad news to his employees. He tells them what he said to his wife about them and the region, which has little flattering. The four Northerners are mad at him at first but when Julie arrives at the Lille station, they turn up in a big van talking loudly and rudely and emptying countless cans of beer, just as the Northerners are traditionally portrayed as, trying to help Philippe put Julie off and persuade her to go back home. They pull up at an old mining area that they make her believe is Bergues and use an empty slum that they make her believe Philippe lives in. The 4 post office employees and several other locals have staged a whole scenario in the old mine pretending the mine is still open, organised a scary dinner outdoors, and make Julie believe that they are eating cat meat. Philippe tells Julie that she can’t stay but Julie refuses to leave him and feels it is her duty to stay and support him in his ordeal. Philippe is obviously embarrassed that she wants to stay in that old mine, realises that she loves him and Antoine prompts him to tell her the truth. He even calls Philippe a coward when he says that he won’t; therefore, Philippe has a golden opportunity to tell Antoine that he should be the last person to call anyone a coward as he is clearly one himself when it comes to his mother. Antoine has a rude awakening and decides once and for all to announce his mother that he is going to leave home to live with Annabelle. Surprisingly, his mother reacts well. Soon enough, Julie finds out herself that it was all staged and discovers that the old mine has nothing to do with Bergues. Annabelle has to explain her everything as Julie finds the real post office where they work. Upset at her husband’s lies, Julie decides to go back home and Philippe asks her to think carefully. Antoine’s mother turns up at the post office, where Annabelle greets her just as politely as she can, announces her that Antoine has left home, congratulates her and sends her wishes of happiness with him. Annabelle is obviously taken by surprise. Antoine has only one more thing to do: propose to her. With Philippe’s encouragements, he displays a proposal message on a bed sheet on top of the carillon in the middle of the night. An emotional Annabelle accepts and points out she has been waiting for that moment for a long time. Back South, Philippe makes a parallel proposal to ask Julie to move back in with him up North. Julie accepts and moves along with her son, and they are invited to Antoine and Annabelle’s wedding. However after 3 years, Philippe receives a letter from the HR sending him back to work in a French seaside location. Even though it was what they initially wished for, he and his family leave the North with regrets. He cries when he leaves just as when he arrived, as Antoine expected he would. Several locals are there to wave goodbye and Antoine and Annabelle, with her baby bump, promise to visit them on holiday.

{tab=FullCast & Crew}

Produced By:

  • Claude Berri known as producer
  • Eric Hubert known as executive producer
  • Jérôme Seydoux known as producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • Kad Merad known as Philippe Abrams
  • Dany Boon known as Antoine Bailleul
  • Zoé Félix known as Julie Abrams
  • Lorenzo Ausilia-Foret known as Raphaël Abrams
  • Anne Marivin known as Annabelle Deconninck
  • Philippe Duquesne known as Fabrice Canoli
  • Guy Lecluyse known as Yann Vandernoout
  • Line Renaud known as La maman d'Antoine
  • Michel Galabru known as Le grand oncle de Julie
  • Stéphane Freiss known as Jean Sabrier
  • Patrick Bosso known as Le gendarme A7
  • Jérôme Commandeur known as L'inspecteur Lebic
  • Alexandre Carrière known as Tony – l'amoureux d'Isabelle
  • Fred Personne known as M. Vasseur
  • Frank Andrieux known as M. Leborgne (as Franck Andrieux)
  • Jean-Christophe Herbeth known as M. Mahieux
  • Jean-François Picotin known as M. Tizaute
  • Jenny Clève known as La mamie 'Quinquin'
  • Claude Talpaert known as Le papi 'Quinquin'
  • Sylviane Goudal known as Une cliente de la poste
  • Yaël Boon known as La cliente en colère de la poste
  • Christophe Rossignon known as Le serveur de la brasserie
  • Zinedine Soualem known as Momo
  • Maryline Delbarre known as Martine de Momo
  • Guillaume Morand known as L'ancien collègue de Philippe
  • Yann Königsberg known as Le collègue de Jean – salon #2
  • Nadège Beausson-Diagne known as L'employée de Bureau à Salon
  • Jean-François Elberg known as L'employé de la station service
  • Eric Bleuzé known as L'homme à la mobylette
  • Bruno Tuchszer known as Le policier à Bergues #1
  • Mickaël Angele known as Le patron du bar de la cité minière
  • Patrick Cohen known as Le client viré
  • Louisette Douchin known as La dame des moules
  • Jean-Marc Vauthier known as Le mineur #1
  • Cédric Magyari known as Le mineur #2
  • Théo Behague known as Un copain des corons
  • Mathieu Sophys known as Un copain des corons
  • Laëtitia Maisonhaute known as La secrétaire de Jean
  • Suzie Pilloux known as La femme chez l'oncle de Julie (as Suzy Pillou)
  • Harmonie-Batterie Municipale de Bergues known as Themselves

..{tab=Supporting Department}Makeup Department:

  • Lucie Deblayé known as assistant makeup artist
  • Juliette Martin known as key hair stylist

Art Department:

  • Daniel Cadet known as locksmith
  • Franck Gies known as carpenter
  • Benoit Godde known as graphic designer
  • Thierry Gratien known as key carpenter (as Thierry Gatien)
  • Thomas Lechevallier known as second assistant art director (2007)
  • Antonio Nogueira known as carpenter
  • Guillaume Watrinet known as property master
  • Eric Pech known as assistant art director (uncredited)
  • Maryse Witte known as prop assistant (uncredited)


Production Companies:

  • Pathé Renn Productions
  • Hirsch (co-production)
  • Les Productions du Chicon (co-production)
  • TF1 Films Production (co-production)
  • Canal+ (participation)
  • Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC) (participation)
  • Centre Régional des Ressources Audiovisuelles (CRRAV) (CRRAV du Nord-Pas-de-Calais)
  • CinéCinéma (participation)
  • Région Nord-Pas-de-Calais (participation)

Other Companies:

  • Aerial Camera Systems  helicopter gyrostabilized camera system
  • Automobiles Peugeot  thanks
  • Cine Cascade  stunts vehicles supplied by
  • Moteur!  publicity


  • Pathé (2008) (worldwide) (theatrical)
  • Alternative Films (2008) (Belgium) (theatrical)
  • Pathé (2008) (France) (theatrical)
  • Pathe (2008) (Switzerland) (theatrical)
  • Pathé Distribution (2008) (UK) (theatrical)
  • Audio Visual Enterprises (2009) (Greece) (theatrical)
  • CLMC Multimedia (2008) (Portugal) (theatrical)
  • Camera Film (2009) (Denmark) (theatrical)
  • Cathay-Keris Films (2008) (Singapore) (theatrical)
  • Distribution Company (2009) (Argentina) (theatrical)
  • Eden Cinema (2007) (Israel) (theatrical)
  • Link Productions Ltd. (2008) (Canada) (theatrical)
  • Paradiso Entertainment (2008) (Netherlands) (theatrical)
  • Prokino Filmverleih (2008) (Germany) (theatrical)
  • Eén (2010) (Belgium) (TV)
  • Imagem Filmes (2010) (Brazil) (all media)
  • Paradiso Home Entertainment (2008) (Netherlands) (DVD) (rental)
  • Paradiso Home Entertainment (2009) (Netherlands) (DVD) (retail)
  • Prokino Filmverleih (2010) (Germany) (DVD)

..{tab=Other Stuff}

Special Effects:

  • Duboi (titles and digital visual effects)
  • L'Etude et la Supervision des Trucages (L'E.S.T.) (visual effects)
  • Les Versaillais

Visual Effects by:

  • Audrey Kleinclaus known as visual effects coordinator: L'EST
  • Marc Latil known as digital artist
  • Frederic Moreau known as visual effects designer
  • Sarah Moreau known as visual effects coordinator
  • Fred Roz known as titles

Release Date:

  • France 17 January 2008 (Festival International du Film de Comédie de L'Alpe d'Huez)
  • Germany 8 February 2008 (European Film Market)
  • France 20 February 2008 (Nord-Pas de Calais) (limited)
  • Belgium 27 February 2008
  • France 27 February 2008
  • Switzerland 27 February 2008 (French speaking region)
  • USA April 2008 (City of Lights, City of Angels)
  • UK 4 April 2008
  • Switzerland 8 May 2008 (German speaking region)
  • Poland 6 June 2008
  • Canada 25 July 2008 (French speaking region)
  • Netherlands 11 September 2008
  • Portugal 18 September 2008
  • Singapore 9 October 2008
  • Germany 30 October 2008
  • Italy 31 October 2008
  • Austria 7 November 2008
  • Indonesia 5 December 2008 (Jakarta International Film Festival)
  • Spain 9 January 2009
  • Canada 23 January 2009 (Vancouver)
  • New Zealand 12 February 2009
  • Israel 19 February 2009
  • Argentina 14 March 2009 (Pantalla Pinamar Festival)
  • Greece 2 April 2009 (Festival du Film Francophone)
  • Hungary 15 April 2009 (French Film Days)
  • Greece 16 April 2009
  • Hungary 30 April 2009
  • Denmark 12 June 2009
  • Norway 3 July 2009
  • Argentina 15 October 2009
  • Brazil 9 April 2010


Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

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