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 serving a five-year sentence for 14 bank robberies, 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, Lucas' former nemesis, police commissioner Duroc (Maurice Barrier), doesn't believe Jean is a hostage, given their common past. 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 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 this, Labib calls Jean, threatening to take François to the police if Jean doesn't get him 500,000 Francs in 24 hours.
With Jeanne in tow, 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 to François that he 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 catatonic state. When Jean refuses, Jeanne runs off. François and Jean chase her and see her run into a park, where a stranger 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 decides to kidnap her and leave the country. Jean suggests that he 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 a catatonic state, now even refusing to eat and speak to him. Later that night, François attempts to break the lock to get Jeanne out of the orphanage, and is soon joined by Jean. However, at first, Jean takes the wrong girl from the bed, and when she screams, the police officer guarding Jeanne is alerted. However, she trips on toys and drops her revolver, which François picks up and forces her to direct him to Jeanne. Jean and François escape from the orphanage with Jeanne, who is suffering 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, has lost his keys. After the doctor examines Jeanne, he discovers her very low blood pressure, gives her a pill of tonicardiaque, and advises the men to feed her normally.
Jean and François break into a house where Jean changed the locks and the owners are on vacation. However, later that night, when he goes to make preparations for leaving the country, Jean runs into Duroc, who informs him that the police have set up barricades across the country. Realizing that he will not be able to get François and Jeanne across the border, Jean hatches a plan after finding the family's passports in the house. They dress up and pretend to be the vacationing family - Jean being the father, François the mother, and Jeanne, after Jean giving her a haircut, as their son, Jean-Claude - and leave for a cross-country road trip in a stolen Renault 25. To get past a police roadblock, Jean lies to the policeman that his "wife" is pregnant and about to go in labor. The policeman in charge assigns two motorcycle police to escort them to the hospital, but they 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 the way to Italy and promises to visit them one day, intending to stay in France and continue his own life there. When François and Jeanne leave, Jean watches them disappearing from a distance. However, after seeing François nearly trip on the dress he's wearing as a disguise, Jean decides to join them.