Opens Fri., June 18
For anybody who worried that Amelie wasn’t overstylized and cutesy-poo enough, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet finally disappears completely up his own twee-hole with a limp farce about the weapons industry, of all things.
The resolutely uncharming Dany Boon stars as a meek video-store clerk caught by a stray bullet in the forehead. Lurching about with a cap in his cranium, the hapless fellow stumbles upon an underground crew of metallurgically gifted circus performers—each with exactly one exaggerated character trait—who, for no discernable reason, agree to help him pit rival Parisian arms dealers against one another.
What follows is one elaborate Rube Goldberg contraption after another, with bizarre Mission: Impossible break-in scenarios, like a Mad Magazine “Spy Vs. Spy” cartoon with all the energy and excitement sapped out.
Precious does not begin to describe these proceedings. Max Steiner’s old movie music cues are repurposed for diminishing returns, contortionists disappear into refrigerators, a black guy only speaks in stock movie clichés, and Jeunet’s go-to dwarf Dominique Pinion launches himself from a cannon.
Never for one moment does anything feel remotely at stake, and the outcome is never less than jauntily certain. Despite Jeunet’s ridiculously elaborate, crazy-pants staging of the action sequences (with no small assist from Tetsuo Nagata’s gorgeous cinematography) all these rigorously designed set-pieces come off as more annoying than thrilling.
In a weird way, Micmacs is a neat Francophile companion piece to last week’s big-screen blow-up of The A-Team. While more competently staged (at least you can tell what’s going on) Jeunet’s film is just as tedious for the same reasons. Both films are foregone conclusions with no sense of danger in which the main characters spend the majority of the running time congratulating one another for being awesome.
Of course, in the American film everyone swaggers like loutish frat boys, while here they’re all too busy being ever so fucking adorable. I was bored to tears by both.