Surprisingly I've found very little commentary comparing this film with an earlier one of 1962, which is unusual. This later version is set during the WW2, providing a separate scenario wherein a local woman, Simone, has returned from Paris to the village with a young girl, Violette. This is Vichy France and the girl is in fact Jewish.
The village school master is more than he seems, as are a number of the locals. So while the kids battle it out for the buttons, there is another battle being planned by the free French. One particularly nasty Millice is looking for trouble and when the Mayor's son is kicked out of his gang for 'informing', he 'spills the beans' and Violette is placed in jeopardy.
The novel is somewhat of a classic for French children and most French people will be familiar with the original story. The children are great, particularly Petit Gibus, who tags along with the seemingly much older group and always wants to be part of the action. Laetitia Casta adds more than a touch of glamour as Simone, while Kad Merad once again displays his versatility as the father of Lebrac, Lebrac being the leader of the village gang.
The language is a bit near the mark at times, although unless you have a grip on informal French insults it's unlikely you will catch what is being said. But the subtitles will, of course, provide equally fruity English equivalents.