Just Visiting

A nobleman and his idiot servant are plucked from a castle in 12th-century France and whisked through time to 21st-century Chicago. During the many hundreds of years in between, humanity has altered the world in ways they could never have imagined, but of all the modern amenities they encounter—including the light bulb, the automobile, and the television—which intrigues them the most? The toilet, or, as one of them calls it, "the magic fountain." Such is the level of sophistication on display in Just Visiting, a puerile Hollywood remake of 1993's French comedy smash Les Visiteurs, which was itself an attempt to deliver broad, Hollywood-style entertainment to the Gallic masses. So, in effect, the American version has been doubly dumbed-down. The only addition to the original filmmaking team—director Jean-Marie Gaubert, screenwriters Christian Clavier and Jean-Marie Poiré, and stars Jean Reno and Clavier—is co-writer John Hughes, who returns once more to the kid-friendly slapstick and drippy sentiment of the Home Alone movies. But before all the groin-pounding and urinal-splashing can commence, Just Visiting spends an eternity getting its heroes out of 12th-century France. For reasons too convoluted to explain, Reno, a revered count, accidentally kills his princess bride-to-be Christina Applegate and is sentenced to death. Reno asks a wizard (Malcolm McDowell, all too recognizable behind a long beard) to transport him and bumbling servant Clavier back to the moment before the incident, but the time-travel potion goes awry, landing them in a present-day Chicago museum exhibit. As fate would have it, Applegate works as a curator at the museum, and she turns out to be Reno's direct descendant, the sole inheritor of his family's vast estate. But their instant kinship draws the ire of her scheming yuppie fiancé (Matthew Ross), who wants nothing to stand in the way of his impending fortune. Tara Reid also stars as a love interest for Clavier, in a subplot that exists mostly to tack on corny salvos to living in a free society. (But when America's children are made to suffer through lowbrow Hollywood dreck, can they truly be considered free?) Borrowing heavily from the Bill & Ted formula, Just Visiting runs through predictable fish-out-of-water antics, as Reno and Clavier do battle with a jeep, drink $2,000 perfume, and try to liberate the poor souls trapped inside a TV set. Considering their unkempt appearance and wanton destruction of everything they touch, was it really such a good idea for Applegate to keep that reservation at the fancy French restaurant? For those amused by upended dessert carts and urinal-cake dinner mints, apparently so.

Filed Under: Film

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