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Les Visiteurs
cast: Jean Reno, Christian Clavier, Valérie Lemercier, and Marie-Anne Chazel

director: Jean-Marie Poiré

102 minutes (15) 1993
widescreen ratio 16:9
Arrow DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 4/10
reviewed by Trudi Topham
"A film you absolutely must not miss," says Mariella Frostrup on the cover of this DVD, presumably because she enjoys lying to the public. In theory she has good taste: she's an art critic, has judged the Man Booker Prize, and knows her way around film. Maybe she just fancies Jean Reno.

Let me take you on a journey through time, back to 1993, when someone in France thought this would be a fantastic film and gave it the green light. Jean Reno plays Godefroy of Montmirail, a 12th century knight who stumbles through to 1993 with 'hilarious' consequences. He even has his 'comedy' patsy, Jacquouille la Fripouille (Christian Clavier) in tow. A completely bollocks film ensues, wherein the French ably demonstrate why they're so famous for farce (and French audiences must have loved it, since it sold close to 14 million cinema tickets during its initial release in France).

Perhaps it's just me. Farce is hardly the world's most intellectual form of comedy, and is second only to slapstick in the crap comedy league table. On the other hand, farce allegedly relies on quick wit and skilled repartee, of which Les Visiteurs has none. What does it have? Well, strangely, it has some of France's best actors, and they all put as much effort in as they would any other project. Their professionalism is highly commendable, and they actually do very good jobs with the material they have to hand. To their credit, they do seem to have at least enjoyed making the film, and that shows.

It's also got some not-bad moments. Reno pretty much shines in any scene he's in, and Valérie Lemercier portrays the hapless, frustrated femme very well. The effects are so-so, the script is a bit dull, and overall I think I could have slept through two thirds of it and felt exactly the same way.

Les Visiteurs is not the worst film I have ever seen, it's true... But it is eminently missable.

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