Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for some Sexuality and brief Violence
(French with English subtitles)
Directed by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Written by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Guillaume Laurent
Starring: Danny Boon, Julie Ferrier, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Yolande Moreau & Dominique Pinon
Arms trading doesn’t exactly sound like the ideal topic for wacky hijinks, but that’s exactly what French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet tackles in his absurdist comedy MICMACS. I’ll admit upfront that this is my first venture into Jeunet land (though I plan on watching DELICATESSAN, CITY OF LOST CHILDREN, and AMELIE down the line). This being said, I fell in love with this movie from its unique beginning to stellar ending. There’s a constant sense of whimsy and a dark sense of humor that never gets too dark throughout the entire film. MICMACS joins the likes of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN and THE LAST CIRCUS as one of my favorite foreign genre films of the past 10 years. If a crazy comedy combining the likes of a Terry Gilliam-esque world with the logistics of a cartoon sounds up your alley, MICMACS is sure to please.
Bazil is a young man who has suffered twice at the hands of two different weapons. When Bazil was a child, his father was killed by a landmine. Thirty years later, a freak drive-by shooting happens outside of Bazil’s work and the end result is a bullet permanently lodged inside of his skull. Left jobless and homeless with nowhere to turn, Bazil meets the grizzled Slammer and is adopted into a family of misfits living in a junkyard. This group of outcasts is made up of various strange folks including a contortionist, a cook, a cliché spewing ethnographer, an inventor, a human cannonball, and a human calculator. Bazil is welcomed into the mismatched family with open arms and things seem to be going fairly well until he stumbles upon two large buildings that are the very arms dealers responsible for his tragic past. Bazil and his newfound band of lovable freaks decide to reap a creative revenge upon both psychotic businessmen running the deadly companies.
As I mentioned earlier, MICMACS has the logistics of a Looney Tunes cartoon and a thick Gilliam-like atmosphere. In fact, all I could think about after I finished watching this wonderful comedy was how much it came across like a live-action cartoon for adults. There’s a more mature sense in that you’re watching a band of outcasts take down two massive weapons dealers and a few genius twists that left me beyond satisfied as the beautiful final scene came to a close. There’s a sense that this isn’t meant to be taken seriously at all, but unexpected clever turns in the screenplay that ensure the viewer thinking about the story fondly. Even typing this review out now, I find myself recalling certain scenes and grinning. The cinematography is crisp and absolutely gorgeous as well. It’s all around beautifully constructed piece of cinema and feels as if you’re watching a finely tuned machine operate (much like the odd mechanical devices characters construct within the movie).
A colorful cast of characters help bring the brilliantly crafted screenplay to life as well. Bazil is a likable protagonist and not exactly the most violent soul in the world, but only wants justice on these two despicably corrupt businessmen making huge profits on piles of corpses. The band of outcasts that adopt Bazil as one of their own are full of creative figures. Though some definitely receive more screen time than others, I felt as if just enough time was dedicated to each of them to give me a sense of their personality. My favorites of which being Elastic Girl (Bazil’s love interest) and Buster (the human cannonball). However, the villains also shine in this film as well. The two rival weapon dealers who are a mere walk across the street from each other are absolutely hilarious in how over-the-top evil they are (one of which even owns a collection of preserved body parts from historical figures). Watching them bicker with each other provides tons of huge laughs.
MICMACS isn’t necessarily meant to be taken seriously at all, but it is a masterpiece of imagination and pure creativity. There’s not a single complaint or negative thing I have to say about this movie. I laughed all the way through and had a great time watching this wonderful film. It charmed me from frame one with its whimsical style and hilarious script. If you’re a fan of Gilliam, absurdist comedies, or creative films in general, MICMACS is sure to entertain and delight!