What if the Three Kings of the Orient never quite made it to that manger near Bethlehem, only to re-surface 2,000 years later to complete their mission in Paris? This rather sweet, and rather silly, concept is handled with an air of exploratory plausibility in "The Three Kings," starring a trio of extremely popular Gallic comedians.

What if the Three Kings of the Orient never quite made it to that manger near Bethlehem, only to re-surface 2,000 years later to complete their mission in Paris? This rather sweet, and rather silly, concept is handled with an air of exploratory plausibility in “The Three Kings,” starring a trio of extremely popular Gallic comedians (two of whom co-wrote and co-helm). Straight-faced thesps, who struck box office gold with 1995’s No. 1 earner “The Three Brothers,” sustain a tone of steady amusement.

Confident and cordial, Melchior (Bernard Campan), Balthazar (Didier Bourdon) and Gaspard (Pascal Legitimus) demand free “hospitality” at the Ritz, learn to order at McDonald’s, interact with airplanes, cell phones and soap operas, navigate clip joints and befriend drug dealers. Convinced that Macha (Virginie de Clausade), a poor little rich girl, is their pre-destined “guide,” they persist in seeking the son of God — even after a kid’s book clues them in about the Crucifixion and a few other biblical events they missed. Segs mocking media mavens and French pubcasters are spot on. Digital f/x by Mikros Image are spiffy.

The Three Kings

France

Production

A Pathe release of a Renn Prods., Prods. Paul Lederman, TF1 Films Prod., DB Prod., ABS production. Produced by Claude Berri, Paul Lederman. Executive producer, Pierre Grunstein. Directed by Didier Bourdon, Bernard Campan. Screenplay, Bourdon, Campan, Olivier Rabourdin.

Crew

Camera (color), Bernard Dechet; editor, Jeanne Kef; music, Laurent Bertaud, Jean-Christophe Prudhomme, Jean-Charles Laurent; art director, Pierre Queffelean; costume designer, Gisele Ravard. Reviewed at UGC Danton, Paris, Dec. 15, 2001. Running time: 100 MIN.

With

Didier Bourdon, Bernard Campan, Pascal Legitimus, Virginie de Clausade, Walid Afkir, Nathalie Roussel, Claude Brusset, Christophe Hemon, Didier Flamand.
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