MicMacs is definitely an interesting motion picture. At times it seamlessly channels the silent, yet comically powerful presence of cinema greats such as Charlie Chaplin, but at other times, it’s severely bogged down by the almost nonexistent character development and the increasingly thin storyline. However, visually, MicMacs is a triumph — adding to director Jean-Pierrer Jeunet’s reputation for having immensely detailed set-pieces.
Jean-Pierrer is most widely known in the states for his work on the critically-acclaimed “Amélie,” which he both directed and wrote. MicMacs is a sort of return to form for the esteemed director, who hasn’t directed a film since “A Very Long Engagement” which was released six years ago. That being said, the film is getting a lot of attention from all corners of the world.
The movie follows Bazil (Dany Boon), a video-store clerk whose life changes dramatically following a random shooting which leaves a bullet in his front lobe (after his doctors flip a coin in order to decide whether or not to take the risk of operating). Of course, the bullet is continuously pressing on the man’s brain — leaving him with a limited amount of time left. The accident also leaves Bazil homeless and it forces him to perform street-shows so that he could live from day-to-day. But besides leaving him without work and with a bullet implanted next to his brain, the shooting also ignites a feeling of malice in the childlike Bazil.
Acting upon this feeling of hatred for two rival weapons manufacturers, Bazil stumbles upon a ragtag team of “MicMacs,” which operate from inside a lair hidden underneath heaps of trash and collect and reassemble trash for reuse. The “MicMacs” include the housewarming Mama Chow (Yolande Moreau), a jailbird named Slammer (Jean-Pierre Marielle), a writer who speaks in disjointed clichéd fragments named Remington (Omar Sy), and of course, a feministic contortionist called Elastic Girl (Julie Ferrier) — who as the film progresses, turns out to be Bazil’s love-interest (though the romance is never really fleshed out).
Bazil and the team later combine forces in order to bring down the weapon manufacturers through means of humiliation and confusion.
The film’s lead Dany Boon is definitely a competent actor, however, this simply isn’t his type of role. Instead of injecting the innocence that Bazil is supposed to exert, Boon turns the character into a walking, breathing robot.
But all of the characters — though interesting at first glance — just serve as mannequins for Pierre’s slapstick farce. MicMacs just seems to have been written with a simple idea in mind, but it quickly escalated into a bombardment of improvising and theater-school awkwardness.
However, what attracted me to the film was the detail to the world’s setting. Just visually, MicMacs is a delight. I found myself squealing at the hidden gems — such as a couple of actual MicMac posters hidden about, and the limited color palette added an almost pre-World-War II era feel to the motion picture. Plus, the classic soundtrack and beginning credits definitely added to the “oldies” appeal.
Personally, I found MicMacs to be overwhelming with its amount of slapstick. I would have preferred much more character development for the film’s large cast of caricatures but I guess this is the reason why Jean-Pierre Jeunet is considered France’s Terry Gilliam — a director that is so focused on visual appeal that he forgets about the importance of a film’s characters and story.