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JUST VISITING

SYNOPSIS:
12th century French Knight Sir Thibault (Jean Reno) travels to Sussex where he is to marry Rosalind (Christina Applegate), the daughter of an English nobleman. On the eve of the wedding, Thibault falls victim to court intrigue and is thrown in gaol with his vassal Andre (Christian Clavier). A wizard (Malcolm McDowell) attempts to save Thibault by transporting him back in time but his potion misfires. Instead, Thibault and Andre find themselves in modern day Chicago where they meet museum curator Julia (Christina Applegate), the last remaining descendant of the Thibault line and heir to its fortune. 

Review by Richard Kuipers:
Just Visiting is a surprisingly good remake of the 1993 French comedy smash Les Visiteurs. A mix of Time Bandits and Carry On, Just Visiting is broad, boisterous physical comedy that makes you laugh even though you can see most of the gags coming a mile off. The 1993 original was the biggest comedy hit in French film history but never found an international audience because of the complexities of retaining humour while translating 12th Century French slang.

This is in English (with script assistance from Chicago specialist John Hughes) and has the enormous benefit of starring original leads Jean Reno as the nobleman and Christian Clavier as his squat and smelly assistant. Thank the movie gods it wasn't turned into a vehicle for the "talents" of comedians like Rob Schneider or Pauly Shore.

All the expected mayhem is delivered as Thibault and Andre crash head-on with the modern world and much of it is very funny. Dinner at Chicago's fanciest restaurant with Thibault throwing scraps to his unworthy servant on the floor, a horse ride down the main drag and into a train carriage and a rousing visit to a mock mediaeval bar are among the highlights of a zesty outing. Reno and Clavier play it perfectly straight, never losing the sense of their 12th century social personas until a nice plot twist finds Andre falling for a hippie gardener played by Tara Reid. There's good villainy on the sidelines from Matthew Ross as Julia's scheming boyfriend and Christina Applegate is a sweet and sympathetic comic foil for the well sliced ham around her.

I liked this goofy old tale because it has a good heart underneath the gross-outs and it's done with crisp, confident and unrepentant strokes. With little publicity and Star Wars to compete with in cinemas, I have the feeling that Just Visiting will be doing just that for a week or two at best before it disappears. Worth catching if you can.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

JUST VISITING (PG)
(France/US)

CAST: Jean Reno, Christian Clavier, Christina Applegate, Matt Ross, Bridgette Wilson, Tara Reid

PRODUCER: Patrice Ledoux, Ricardo Mestres

DIRECTOR: Jean-Marie Poiré

SCRIPT: Jean-Marie Poiré, Christian Clavier

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ueli Steiger

EDITOR: Michael A. Stevenson

MUSIC: John Powell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Doug Kraner

RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 16, 2002

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: September 11, 2002







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