Published Sep 18, 2009Rest assured, Jean-Pierre Jeunet's new, exaggerated, hyper-realized comedy of social dysphoria has the French filmmaker's stamp of stylized zaniness all over it. He steps back from the more grandiose A Very Long Engagement and crafts a less ambitious, but entirely enjoyable, hybrid of Amélie and City of Lost Children.
Anyone familiar with these titles knows what to expect from Micmacs, a film that plays around with classic film noir and screwball comedy staples with affable whimsy.
In usual Jeunet form, the film opens with a comically told, but tragic, back-story of a man stepping on a landmine, adding fuel to the impending fire, as his son Bazil (Dany Boon), a video store clerk, inadvertently gets a bullet in the noggin years later. Unexpectedly surviving the shooting, Bazil leaves the hospital to find that his apartment, belongings and job have all been given away, leaving him destitute and bent on getting revenge on weapons manufacturers.
Eventually a makeshift family living in a junkyard bunker takes him in, helping him concoct and execute plans against these corporations, involving elaborate schemes, peculiar inventions and mass manipulation. A romantic subplot unfolds between Bazil and a tomboy contortionist (played by Julie Ferrier), helping the overall message of prioritizing the fleeting moments in life.
Most of the fun throughout this French comedy comes from these intricately devised plans to take down evil corporations. An attention to minutia and in-the-moment awkwardness while staging ludicrous cons engages us with the details, even if overall emotional investment is limited, given a protagonist that's somewhat less charming than, say, Amélie.
And if there's any fault to be found in Micmacs it's only that the craziness isn't tempered with the same degree of heart that Jeunet has displayed in his earlier works. There's a generalized sweetness in those dispelled from society finding unity and compassion in the world, but these implications are vague, making it easier to forget the film after leaving the theatre.
Regardless, few could refute the fun of watching such a detailed and over-the-top movie about social misfits exploiting mass expectations. (E1)