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Micmacs stars French actor/comedian Dany Boon as Bazil, a lowly video store clerk who is accidentally shot in the head during a gun battle raging in the streets outside. He survives, but loses his job and apartment after his hospital stay. He joins up with a ragtag band of misfits living in a junkyard, each possessing some odd skill or, in the case of Elastic Girl (Julie Ferrier), whose names succinctly sums up her abilities, some physical oddity. Bazil is haunted by the death of his father who was killed by a landmine while on duty with the French military somewhere in the Northern Africa. As fate would have it, the two munitions factories in town, conveniently located across the street from one another, were responsible for both his bullet and the bomb that took Papa from him. Bazil, with the help of his newfound friends, sets out to sabotage the weapons makers and end their reign of terror.
Given the nature of the plot, there are some serious implications to be made about the global arms trade its rippling effects around the world. But that is sort of secondary here. First and foremost, the film is concerned with being a movie. This is realized in details minute and broad. At the beginning, as Bazil sits in the video store at work, he is watching a Humphrey Bogart movie dubbed in French. He mouths the words along with the action, emphatically playing out the scenes in his head. As the melodramatic film-noir music rises, simultaneously cuing the movie on the small screen and the one you are actually watching, events fall into place. Even the credits roll under a sweeping day-for-night backdrop of stormy skies. Throughout the film, Jeunet is both paying tribute to and referencing the movies he loves, as well as the visceral and exaggerated pleasures of cinema. Many sequences in Micmacs, especially the ones involving physical comedy, are culled directly from the tradition of silent movies, as Boon is an almost Chaplin-like figure in his humor.
But for all its spectacular Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions and wide-eyed mechanics, something is missing from Micmacs. Yes, it's a pleasure to watch and often very funny, but the story and supposed comeuppance at the end feel a little put-upon, as everything falls into place without truly moving the audience to feel for the characters. Still, taken as nothing more than a dazzling diversion, Micmacs is a thrill to watch and an exuberant addition to cinema. SEE ALSO: www.sonyclassics.com/micmacs/
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.
See other articles by Jonah Flicker.
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