Little Nicholas

Little Nicholas (French: Le Petit Nicolas), also known as Petit Nicolas (UK),[3] is a 2009 French-Belgian family comedy film directed by Laurent Tirard, who co-wrote with Grégoire Vigneron and Alain Chabat. It is based on a series of children's books by René Goscinny. The film features an ensemble cast led by Maxime Godart in the title role of Nicolas. The film was theatrically released in France on 30 September 2009 by Wild Bunch Distribution, Central Film, and EOne Films.[4]

Little Nicholas
French theatrical release poster
Directed byLaurent Tirard
Produced byOlivier Delbosc
Marc Missonnier
Genevieve Lemal
Alexandre Lippens
Screenplay byLaurent Tirard
Grégoire Vigneron
Alain Chabat
Based onLe petit Nicolas
by René Goscinny
StarringMaxime Godart
Kad Merad
Valérie Lemercier
Music byKlaus Badelt
CinematographyDenis Rouden
Edited byValérie Deseine
Fidélité Productions
Wild Bunch
M6 Films
Mandarin Films
Scope Pictures
Distributed byWild Bunch Distribution
Central Film
EOne Films
Release date
  • 30 September 2009 (2009-09-30)
Running time
90 minutes
Budget$22.7 million[1]
Box office$59.4 million[2]

The film received mostly positive reviews from critics and earned $100.8 million on a $22.7 million budget. It won the French Television of Ontario (TFO) Prize for Best Youth Film at the Cinéfranco in 2010 and also received nominations for the César Award for Best Writing – Adaptation, the European Film Award for People's Choice Award for Best European Film, and the Cinema Brazil Grand Prize for Best Foreign-Language Film. A sequel, Nicholas on Holiday, was released on 9 July 2014.


In 1960s Paris, a young boy named Nicolas and his friends get into all sorts of mischief, both intentional and unintentional. Matters worsen when Nicolas, a single child, thinks his mother is pregnant and a baby brother is forthcoming. A friend of Nicolas's has a baby brother and thinks brotherhood is horrible. Thanks to his friend's ideas, Nicolas believes this means his parents don't love him anymore and will abandon him. He and his pals embark on several schemes to raise 500 francs to have the baby kidnapped and left in a jungle. But before any drastic consequences are successful, Nicolas learns how nice it is to be a big brother. When he discovers his mother isn't pregnant, Nicholas is upset. Eventually, his parents have a baby, which Nicolas looks forward to; however, he gets a sister instead of a brother and tells his parents he should have asked for a puppy.[5]




Producers Olivier Delbosc and Marc Missonnier from Fidelity Films offered Laurent Tirard the project, who immediately accepted it because he had grown up with the characters from the story. About the story, Tirard said, "It... struck me as obvious. I grew up with Le Petit Nicolas. I read [it] when I was a teenager. This work represents me and speaks to me. I immediately knew what the film would look like."[6] Tirard further added that the character of Nicolas was very personal to René Goscinny, saying, "I knew that the key would be to adapt the both in his work and in his life, so I tried to understand the character of René Goscinny. This was someone who was looking for his place in society, and he had to win through laughter... [Goscinny] realized that laughter could be both a defense [in] a society where you do not feel out-of-place and a way to insert. These are things that I read between the lines of his biographies, and [they] spoke to me. The little boy looking for his place in society has become the axis on which to build the story."[6]


On 8 April 2008, it was announced that Valérie Lemercier and Kad Merad had joined the cast of the film as Nicloas's mother and father.[7] Maxime Godart was cast as the main protagonist, Nicolas. On that matter, Tirard said, "Maxime Godart has a very clear vision of the place he wants to be in the company of what he wants to do with his life. With his outgoing personality, I thought he would not be afraid in front of the camera. But it happened the other way around. The first day, when huge crane arm with a camera approached him for a first round crank, he was petrified!" According to Tirard, Maxime had a great desire to play the character, and he really enjoyed it. "He never gave any sign of fatigue or expressed the need to stop," said Tirard.[8] Tirard also cast his own son Virgil Tirard, as Joachim, a classmate and friend of Nicolas's.[9]


Filming began on 22 May 2008 in Paris and ended on 11 October 2008. Most of the filming took place at Studio Monev at Sint-Pieters-Leeuw. Scenes were also shot at Laeken, near the old school of boatmen on a vacant lot, and at the corner of la rue Claessens and la rue Dieudonné Lefèvre.[10][11]

Music and soundtrack

Le Petit Nicolas: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedSeptember 28, 2009
LabelEmArcy Records
ProducerKlaus Badelt
Klaus Badelt film scores chronology
Dragon Hunters
Le Petit Nicolas: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Solomon Kane

The score for Le Petit Nicolas was composed by Klaus Badelt and performed by Geert Chatrou, Dirk Brossé, and Loïc Pontieux.[12] It was released on 28 September 2009 by EmArcy Records.[13][14] Renan Luce's second single "On n’est pas à une bêtise press" ("Was not a mistake near") from his 2009 album Clan miros appears in the end credits of the film, but it is not part of the album. The song was later released by Luce in October 2009.[15][16] The album received positive response on its release. Movienthusiast gave the album a positive review and awarded it three out of five stars, saying, "[The] music of this film is able to fill a variety of themes, [and] scenes usually pose a ticklish feeling in the audience themselves." In the soundtrack, Badelt uses "intelligent sound", combining bass drums, violin, harmonica, triangle, and even whistle. "Overall," said Movienthusiast, "every scene is filled by a variety of sounds from various instruments, giving them extra charm."[17]

Track listing
1."Un drôle de sujet de rédaction (A funny essay topic)"07:42
2."Générique (Generic)"02:46
3."Mord aux prof (Kill the teacher)"01:14
4."La Roulette (Roulette)"0:58
5."Les Filles, c'est pas intéressant (Girls are not interesting)"01:00
6."Papa et Maman se disputent souvent (Mom and Dad often argue)"01:43
7."3 Francs par rose (3 Francs for a rose)"03:02
8."Un Jeu drôlement compliqué (An awfully complicated game)"01:40
9."Une Balade en forêt (A Walk in the forest)"01:21
10."Le Spectacle (The Show)"01:11
11."Je vais avoir un petit frère! (I'm having a little brother!)"01:09
12."Ménage (Cleaning)"01:19
13."Gangster-à-louer (Gangster to rent)"01:08
14."Et en plus, c'est un sale cafard! (And besides, it's a dirty cockroach!)"01:11
15."Potion Magic (Magic Potion)"03:50
16."Rivalités fraternelles (Sibling rivalry)"02:05
17."Rolls Folle (Rolls mad)"03:58
18."Neuf Mois (Nine Months)"02:04
19."On dirait un poivron confit (It looks like a pepper confit)"01:02
Total length:40:23


Theatrical release

The film was theatrically released in France on 30 September 2009 by Wild Bunch Distribution, Central Film, and EOne Films.[4]

Home media

The film was released on DVD on 3 February 2010 by Wild Side Video.[18] Bonus features included a booklet with a history of Petit Nicolas and commentary featuring the child artists of the film.[19]


Box office

In its first week of release, Le Petit Nicolas sold over a million tickets in France.[20] The film grossed $48,398,428 in France and $11,088,066 in international territories for a total of $59,486,494.[21]

Critical reception

The film received mostly positive reviews from critics. David Parkinson of Empire Online gave the film three out of five stars, saying, "Charmingly capturing the misconceptions of childhood and ebulliently played by a knowing cast, it should delight all ages."[22] Phelim O'Neill of The Guardian gave four stars out of five by saying that "It presents a gently humorous, beautifully shot idyllic version of childhood, all blue skies, good manners and not a hair out of place. It's a nice place to visit for the duration."[23] Omer Ali of Little White Lies praised the film, saying, "A diverting alternative to more high-octane kiddie fare."[24] Amber Wilkinson of Eye for Film praised the actors, saying, "In a refreshing change from Hollywood films aimed at this market, there is a blissful lack of toilet humor and... plenty of fun to be had for an older audience in watching Nicholas' hapless father (Kad Merad) attempt to win a promotion from his boss by bringing him home to dinner. The acting from the adults has a slight pantomime edge to it, but this complements the source material and gives a real sense of the way in which children tend to view grown-ups as larger-than-life. The children, meanwhile, form a sweet and believable ensemble with Maxime Godart in the central role and Victor Carles as class clot Clotaire. In particular, [they are] likely to crop up in other films."[25] Similarly, Bernard Besserglik of The Hollywood Reporter also commented, saying that this film adaptation is "technically proficient" and "[features] two of France's best comic actors."[20] However, Jordan Mintzer of Variety criticized the film, saying, "The clan of boys, and especially Nicolas himself, are too impeccably coiffed, dressed, and mannered to resemble the ruffians depicted in Sempe’s drawings or anything like real kids at all. Along with Francoise Dupertuis’ flamboyant sets and tidy lensing by Denis Rouden ("MR 73″), the result is a look of squeaky-clean postwar nostalgia, closer to Christophe Barratier’s The Chorus than to Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, which was set around the same time period."[26] Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph also gave a negative review to the film, saying, "English-speaking children will have to read very quickly indeed to keep up with the subtitles in this meek French family entertainment based on a series of children’s books by René Goscinny, original writer of the Asterix strips."[27]


Year Award Category Recipient Result
2010 César Award Best Writing – Adaptation Laurent Tirard
Gregoire Vigneron
European Film Awards People's Choice Award for Best European Film Laurent Tirard Nominated
Cinéfranco TFO Prize for Best Youth Film Laurent Tirard Won
2011 Cinema Brazil Grand Prize Best Foreign-Language Film Laurent Tirard Nominated


In August 2013, it was confirmed that the film sequel, Nicholas on Holiday (Les Vacances du Petit Nicolas), would be released on 9 July 2014.[28] Valérie Lemercier and Kad Merad reprised their roles in the sequel, with the character of Nicolas played by newcomer Mathéo Boisselier.[29]

See also


  1. "Alain Chabat adopts Petit Nicolas". Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 2013-09-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. "Petit Nicolas". 18 February 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 2013-09-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. "Le Petit Nicolas A film by Laurent Tirard". Retrieved September 20, 2013.
  6. "Genesis Project". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  7. "Kad Merad and Valérie Lemercier parents "Petit Nicolas"". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  8. "Entretien avec Laurent Tirard". Archived from the original on 23 February 2011. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  9. "Petit Nicolas". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  10. "2008: Le petit Nicolas (Laurent Tirard)". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  11. "Le Petit Nicolas Laurent Tirard". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  12. "Le Petit Nicolas". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  13. "LE PETIT NICOLAS (FRO)". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  14. "Petit Nicolas, Le (2009)". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  15. "La France rebelle!". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  16. "Renan Luce". Archived from the original on September 27, 2013. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  17. "Movie Scoring, Soundtrack & Musical Review – Little Nicholas / Le Petit Nicolas (2009)". Archived from the original on September 27, 2013. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  18. "Le petit Nicolas: DVD, Blu-ray, VOD". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  19. "DVD: Le Petit Nicolas - Prestige Edition". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  20. "The Little Nicolas -- Film Review". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  21. "LE PETIT NICOLAS". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  22. "Le Petit Nicolas Bonjour les enfants". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  23. "Petit Nicolas – review This immaculate big screen transfer for the French children's fiction charms Phelim O'Neill". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  24. "Petit Nicolas Review". Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  25. "Little Nicholas". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  26. "Review: "Le petit Nicolas"". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  27. "Films in brief: Circumstance, The Watch, Petit Nicholas, F for Fake, review". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  28. "Le Petit Nicolas: After the success of the first film, a new player for the future!". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  29. "Cinema: the new kid Nicolas". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
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