02 April 2011

Movies: Micmacs

Micmacs (2009) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1149361/

This is a French comedy. And by French I mean French actors, French language, French comedy sensibilities, French everything (no fries). Rather whimsical too. But it was a fun film in its way.

When we first meet Bazil he is a child whose father was killed attempting to disarm a landmine.  Then we re-meet Bazil 30 years later, he works at a video rental store.  He hears commotion and goes outside to see what is happening, only to be shot in the head by a stray bullet. It doesn't kill him, but the doctors fear that removing the bullet from his brain would cause more damage and possibly render him a vegetable.  After recovering Bazil leaves hospital to discover he's been evicted from his apartment, been replaced at his job, and now has to live on the streets getting by however he can.  He meets an ex-con who introduces Bazil to an eccentric group of junk collectors.  This group lives under a giant hollowed-out pile of junk, they work together to repair the things they collect and sell them.  Now that Bazil has a place to stay he decides to get rid of the two companies that ruined his life - the company that made the landmine that killed his father, and the company that made the bullet lodged in his brain.  His new friends volunteer to help him in his quest.

The film is sort of a Mr. Bean mashed with Mission Impossibly/Oceans Elevensy style type of film, with a bit less violence. Mad schemes, steampunky inventions, reliance on the quirky abilities of the eccentric junk collectors. Each has their abilities and play to those strengths to help Bazil ruin the arms companies.  It almost borders on farce in some situations, but not quite.  A little bit of physical humor, but not necessarily exaggerated physical humor.  I noticed the visual gags a little more than the spoken ones and I'd be hard pressed to recognize French culture jokes. For some reason even moments like Bazil getting shot in the head came off as amusing. I think that was a case of the humor is all in the timing.

I'm sure the cast did fine in their roles - I can't tell by conversational French vocal inflections if they spoke the lines well or not. Technical things like shot framing, editing, pace, music, costuming, all were well done. A lot of experienced and professional care went into all aspects of the film production and it shows.

I was happily surprised to be entertained by this film. much like I was with Amelie, Sometimes there's just enough overlap between different cultural comedic sensibilities, and this film seemed to have enough for me.  Probably a film a person would have to be in the mood for, sort of a Saturday afternoon with nothing else to do type of film.  If you're not much into the British / French whimsical comedic styles it might not be a good fit. I figure the only way I'll know if a foreign comedy will work for me is to sit down and watch it.

I wouldn't classify it as a must-see for everyone, but I found it enjoyable and worth my time.

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