Friday, June 03, 2011

Micmacs: Grade C

Micmacs (2009)
Dany Boon, André Dussollier, Nicolas Marié, Yolande Moreau; Co-writer & Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. (French, subtitled).

This is a very strange film and probably worth seeing for that reason. A bomb squad member is blown up by a land mine, and his son notes the manufacturer of the weapon. As an adult, the man (Boon) is accidentally shot in the head by a handgun but survives. He becomes childlike and goofy (if he was not already), a homeless beggar and street performer. He finds his way to a family of trashpickers living in a scrap metal dump. They’re all as goofily eccentric as he is. When he decides to attack the weapons manufacturer (conveniently located nearby), he enlists their aid and they mount a sort of Mission Impossible set of tricks and operations to wreak havoc. The revenge story is somewhat fun because the team uses gizmos they found or made from their scrapyard pile, and their unique talents (they have a former circus performer who was a human cannonball and a woman contortionist who can fit herself inside a small box, etc.).

There isn’t much dialog and most of the humor is visual, giving the film a flavor of the old silent movies, like Charlie Chaplin or Keystone Cops. There are other visual allusions to film history as well. There is a slight, but trite political theme: Weapons manufacturers are evil. Sets are amazingly complex and clever, and cinematography is inventive – perhaps distractingly so. The characters are eccentric and aggressively whimsical. In fact the whole movie adds up to whimsy for the sake of whimsy. Neither the characters nor the story are coherent enough to engage the viewer so you are left with just sheer goofiness, which is not LOL funny, but you say to yourself, “that’s cute,” or “that’s charming.” But overall it’s like eating birthday cake: there is no food value.

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