By Gary Murray
Starring Dany Boon, Andre Dussollier, Nicholas Marie, Jean-Pierre Marielle and Yolande Moreau Written by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Running time 1 hr 44 min
MPAA Rating R
The French are known for making different and unusual films. They love to capture the absurdity of life and examine it by making it grand. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has been giving audiences on both side of the pond stunning visuals and cleaver storylines. His latest is Micmacs. The film opens with war, landmines and death. The father of Bazil dies just as he is born, leaving him both a war victim and fatherless. Years later, Bazil (Dany Boon) works in a video store, watching more movies than renting them out. A gun battle happens outside the shop and Bazil is hit, a bullet lodged in his brain. The doctors decide to leave it in, giving Bazil a different way of looking at life. Once back on his feet, he finds that his existance is destroyed. Having lost his apartment and his job, he has to perform on the street for coins. A homeless guy takes pity on him and introduces him to a collective that finds treasures thrown away. The place is also a metaphor for the people who live in the collective, they are all freaks who have been abandoned. With names like Tiny Pete, Calculator and Elastic Girl; they are all working on themselves as much as working on junk. One day Bazil is on a run and discovers that the landmine company and the bullet company are on opposite sides of the same street in Paris. Bazil goes into a rage when he sees that the companies that have ruined everything in his life are within his grasp. The rest of Micmacs is Bazil's revenge against the two CEO's of the companies, plotting one against the other to destroy both. Visually, the film is stunning. There are elements like dancing clothes on hangers that give a surreal feel to the proceedings. More than once there is a reference to a classic noir but with a modern twist. With this cast of characters, there are also references to some of the great silent comics, with special nods to both Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. The background of the junk cave harks back to something from Arabian Nights. The problem with the film is the aspect of blame. Bazil attacks two different military manufacturers because of the twisted turns that have assaulted his life. It would be like blaming GM if you were in a car wreck. He doesn't go after the people who shot the gun or planted the landmine, no–he blames the company that made the products. The flick feels more along the lines of Brazil, the Terry Gilliam film. It has all the strange characters and outlandish situations, just not the strong storytelling. It is weird for the sake of being weird. It also drags along, more in love with the images it is putting on the screen than with the storytelling aspects needed to drive the plot. With a summer that has given us some very weak films, Micmacs becomes just another product trying to generate box office. It has a weirdness that betrays the sweetness it wants to become. Not a bad little flick but nothing to rush out and see.