The Visitors FILM review
Apr 24, 2007, 04:04
THE VISITORS directed by Jean-Marie Poire; 1995, Miramax Zoe Home Video
If you've been hankering for a film in which 11th century French knights inadvertently time-travel to the 20th century, meet and meddle in the affairs of their own descendants, befriend a Cyndi Lauper meets Phyllis Dilleresque bag lady and embark on hijinx aplenty, then you're in luck. Your oh so humble prayers have been answered courtesy of The Visitors, a French comedy starring Jean Reno of The Professional fame. Though the video box claims kinship with “edgy” flicks like Trainspotting and Chungking Express, The Visitors is a closer match to Bill & Ted mixed with a bottom barrel Monty Python episode. The film starts slow, which isn't surprising since the Middle Ages are better known for religious persecution, cumbersome outerwear and wooden speech patterns, rather than rib-tickling comedy. It isn't until Reno and his vassal Jacquasse (get it... Jack Ass), played nicely by Christian Claver, get shipped to the 20th century that the comedy starts flowing. Reno and Claver rarely ditch their chain mail or klutzy middle age dialogue, so run-ins with pesky gendarmes and pill-popping psychiatrists are inevitable. All your classic time travel gags get played to good effect as the ancients do battle with modern plumbing, currency exchange problems, telecommunications, and the slight advances the French have made in personal hygiene over the last nine hundred years. The film's slender political subtext is so European you gotta love it. Upon learning that the French Revolution has given plebes like him a chance in the modern world, Claver buys some pimpin' threads, an oversize rasta hat, learns to brush his rotting teeth and balks at returning to the olden days when the opportunity arises. Har-de-har-har.
While The Visitors isn't as hysterical, as let's say, a middle school production of Camelot, it sure beats anything SNL has put out in the last fifteen years.
-Jean-Pierre de Camembert