'Just Visiting' Review: They're From France
For my first article of this, our Not-So-Newvember month, I find myself hoping that at least some of the movies on my list of assigned films are actually good. This week I was given Just Visiting, a 2001 film directed by Jean-Marie Poirė and based off of the 1993 French film Les Visiteurs, which I have not seen. In 1993.
Malcolm McDowell is an incompetent wizard that quickly manages to adapt to the new world and wears a cowboy hat. Jean Reno is Thibault, an arrogant aristocrat from the medieval times, he is a Count, a Duke, a Baron, and a Lord. Christian Clavier is Andre the slave, idiot, valet. Christina Applegate plays both a noble lady that gets stabbed with a sword through the gut and Julia, a descendant of Thibault that he wants to make out with because she looks exactly like his fiance. Tara Reid plays Angelique, a vaguely air headed gardner who connects with Andre. Finally, Matt Ross is Hunter, a gold digging antique dealer.
The plot is overly simple, and the relationships are almost insultingly direct in their predictability. When magic causes Thibault to stab his fiance through the stomach, Malcolm the Wizard accidentally sends him forward in time instead of back. There, he and his manservant must contest with the modern world as they attempt to find the wizard to get back and save Thibault's betrothed. At the same time, Thibault's descendant Julia is in the process of selling all of her noble medieval estate at the bidding of her boyfriend Hunter. In the future, Andre meets Angelique, who convinces him that he shouldn't be a slave and uses his stolen treasure to buy the both of them fancy clothes and a car. That's all pretty much the gist of the entire film. There's also a witch for one scene, a villain in medieval times with no connection to the future, no explanation of how Thibault could have descendants if he stabbed his fiance before they had sex, a conclusion for Andre that has him driving to Vegas, where it can only be assumed that he lost his entire fortune and ended up a hobo with no workable skills, and a scene in which Matt Ross is sent to the past because he unwittingly performs the time travel spell on himself and winds up as the new manservant to Count Thibault.
There are some truly inspired comedy bits, from Andre's response of "I have good boots" to the question of whether he can run 70 miles per hour, Tibault and Andre's first car ride, or the line of "I will shit easy tomorrow" when Andre describes the quality of the dog food he is eating. Andre delivers most of the jokes. Yet most of the humor is childlike in its bluntness. At one point the narrator describes a villainous character flatly with "We can tell by his petulantly furrowed brow that he is up to no good". A conversation is repeatedly interrupted by another character farting. At one point Andre eats the urinal cake out of the toilet as after dinner mints.
I honestly couldn't tell if it was a children's movie or not. It has many scenes that feel as though they are inserted to teach youthful humans the lessons of self reliance, honesty, independence, and freedom, with a character explicitly stating that "This is America! You're free!". However, it also contains a man getting hit head on by a throwing ax, curse words, and some relatively crass and adult jokes. The original was the top selling movie in the country, so I imagine the westernization of the piece, our Hollywood approach to relationships in comedy and our love of farts for example, may be the reason for my less than stellar opinion of the flick.
All things considered, Just Visiting is an alright comedy, but not one that I can honestly recommend you seek out. If it's ever on Netflix and you're out of legitimately good things to watch, maybe try it out, but if you're looking for a medieval times time travel flick, maybe check out the more classic A Kid in King Arthur's Court, Black Knight, In The Name of the King 2, Outlander 2008 (in that one he travels through space time and dimensions some how to fight an alien dragon with vikings), or even Whoopi Goldberg's A Knight in Camelot.
Final Say: Skip It