Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Friday, February 26, 2010



As polished and fluid as anything Jeunet has previously done, 'Micmacs' looks lovely, is full of eccentrics, brimming with invention and so light that if you put it next to a fan it might end up in North Africa!
The hero of this tall tale, Bazil, is made an orphan when his father is blown up by a landmine. Later in life, after accidentally being shot in the head during a shootout, he loses everything and becomes homeless. This being a Jeunet movie though there is always a loose family of eccentrics willing to take him in, and, when he decides to exact revenge on the arms companies who ruined his life, help him.
There is a serious topic behind this film, and it could be argued that in treating the subject so humourously Jeunet ensures that it reaches the widest possible audience. However, it could be also argued that it ends up trivialising that issue. After all, should arms dealing really be a subject for caper movies?
Of course, nothing in this film can be taken too seriously. Everyone from the hero down is a one concept pantomime character. There is a human calculator, a human cannonball, a strong skinny man and an extreme contortionist, not to mention the bullet-in-the-head brains of the operation, Bazil. It plays like an Ealing heist movie, or a relatively harmless update of the Vincent Price vengence movies (eg. 'Theatre of Blood', 'The Abominable Dr Phibes') with Dany Boon, playing Bazil, in the Vincent Price role (albeit a more tic-ridden, more tongue-tied version). The set-up is pantomime too. Not only are the arms companies run by two stereotypical villains (as opposed to less identifiable corporate boards), their companies face each other on the same street. Bombs explode without fatalities, distractions are achieved by means of wasps, hookers and doped sugar cubes. It's all very cosy. Hollywood might inject a 'serious' moment into their 'critical but funny' films (you know the moment - the music rises, the villains go teary-eyed as they understand their crimes, or else we do), and 'Micmacs' comes perilously close to doing the same thing, with a few briefly glimpsed photographs reminding us what this is all really about. That moment though is too brief and too at odds with the tone of the rest of the movie to be taken seriously. (Thankfully the villains remain unrepentant.) This is probably more honest than American hypocrisy, but it means the film really has very little to say.
All in all then, 'Micmacs' is a fun film when it probably shouldn't be, and far, far from what Jeunet is really capable of. You won't need a bullet in the head to forget it.

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