×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Just Visiting

"Just Visiting," a slightly shorter and significantly less frenetic reprise of the 1993 comedy that broke box office records (and generated a 1998 sequel) in France, should prove more palatable to mainstream auds on this side of the ocean.

With:
Thibault - Jean Reno Rosalind/Julia - Christina Applegate Andre - Christian Clavier Hunter - Matthew Ross Angelique - Tara Reid Amber - Bridgette Wilson-Sampras Byron - John Aylward Dr. Brady - George Plimpton Wizard - Malcolm McDowell

Considering the frosty reception given “Les Visiteurs” by even the most ardent Francophiles among U.S. arthouse devotees, an Americanized remake — especially one with the same director and two lead players — might seem a dubious enterprise, if not a fool’s errand. But “Just Visiting,” a slightly shorter and significantly less frenetic reprise of the 1993 comedy that broke box office records (and generated a 1998 sequel) in France, should prove more palatable to mainstream auds on this side of the ocean. Without major marquee allure to attract ticketbuyers — and, perhaps more importantly, with a coming-attractions trailer that isn’t at all enticing — pic isn’t likely to be a long-term tenant at many theaters. As cable and homevid fare, however, it may be a welcome guest in many homes.

Jean Reno, arguably best known to U.S. moviegoers for “Godzilla” and “Mission: Impossible,” reprises his portrayal of Count Thibault of Malfee, a noble knight who’s inadvertently transported from the 12th century to contemporary times by an unreliable wizard (originally Pier Vial, now Malcolm McDowell). And Christian Clavier, co-screenwriter of the original and the remake, returns as Andre, the dim-witted servant whom Thibault treats like a dog and feeds accordingly.

Popular on Variety

Thibault and Andre are dropped into a “time corridor” that leads to Chicago, where artifacts from the nobleman’s castle are on museum display.

For once, something got added in the translation. Maybe some credit should go to John Hughes, who helped co-writers Clavier and Jean-Marie Poirie retrofit their original “Visiteurs” script. The remake, like its predecessor, is top-heavy with broad slapstick, mistaken identities and gross-out gags about Andre’s undiscriminating eating habits. But “Just Visiting” is appreciably less frenzied as it strings together bits and pieces of comical nonsense, emerging as a one-joke comedy that is good for more than a few good laughs.

The gags, many of them recycled from “Visiteurs,” are fairly predictable: The time-travelers mistake a car for a dragon, assume small people are trapped inside a TV set, marvel at electricity and other modern-day wonders, etc. Even so, the wackiness quotient is maintained at a level that is modestly amusing, not gratingly obnoxious. And to their credit, the makers of the remake play fair: During the early 12th century scenes, which detail Thibault’s betrothal to a British noblewoman, they firmly establish that the knight and his squire speak English. That way, it’s not such a big deal when they’re able to communicate, in their own fashion, with modern-day Chicagoans.

Reno strikes a nice balance of pomposity and nobility, canniness and cluelessness, as Thibault tries to regain his equilibrium in the strange new world of 21st century Chicago. Clavier remains a pratfalling clown with an aggressively goofy streak. He’s easiest to take when he finds a kindred spirit in an overworked gardener, Angelique, played as a spirited neo-bohemian by Tara Reid.

A most pleasant surprise is Christina Applegate’s winning performances in two key roles: Rosalind, Thibault’s beautiful British fiancee, whose untimely demise triggers the noble knight’s time-traveling; and Julia, Thibault’s only living 21st century descendant, who’s sweetly oblivious to the infidelities of Hunter (Matthew Ross), her manipulative boyfriend.

Hunter wants to marry Julia for the money she’s certain to have if she sells her family’s ancestral home back in France.

Supporting players are a mixed bag. Ross is a standard-issue slick no-goodnik. As Amber, Hunter’s sexy babe on the side, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras is allowed to do little more than flash a bit of cleavage and roll provocatively across a desk. Fortunately, George Plimpton doesn’t even get to do that much as a befuddled museum director. Malcolm McDowell is largely wasted as the wizard who makes the mistake of sending Thibault and Andre forward in time. Character also makes the great leap to 21st century, but pic doesn’t give him anything funny to do after he arrives.

A co-production of Disney’s Hollywood Pictures and Gaumont, filmed on location in Chicago and at Shepperton Studios in England, “Just Visiting” makes sparing but effective use of Igor Sekulic’s first-rate f/x work to enhance some sight gags. Other tech values are solid.

Just Visiting

Production: A Buena Vista release of a Hollywood Pictures production in association with Gaumont. Produced by Patrice Ledoux, Ricardo Mestres. Executive producer, Richard Hashimoto. Directed by Jean-Marie Gaubert. Screenplay, Christian Clavier, Jean-Maire Poire, John Hughes, based on "Les Visiteurs" written by Poire, Clavier.

Crew: Camera (Astro Lab color, Technicolor prints), Ueli Steiger; editor, Michael A. Stevenson; music, John Powell; production designer, Doug Kraner; supervising art director, Stephen Cooper; art directors, John D. Jeffries Sr., Jonathan McKinstry (U.K.); set designers, Evelyne Barbier, David M. Haber, Dave W. Krummel, Colin de Rouin; set decorators, Tracey Doyle, Peter Young (U.K.); costume designer, Penny Rose; visual effects supervisor, Igor Sekulic; visual effects, Visual Factory; sound (Dolby Digital/ DTS/SDDS), Raymond Cymoszinski; supervising sound editors, Mark Mangini, Elliot L. Koretz; associate producers, Poire, Clavier, John A. Amicarella; assistant directors, Gary Marcus, Dennis Maguire; second unit directors, Gary Davis, David Ellis; second unit camera, Buzz Feitshans IV; U.K. second unit director, Peter Macdonald; U.K. second unit camera, Michael Brewster, Keith Goddard; casting, Billy Hopkins, Suzanne Smith, Kelly Barden. Reviewed at Cinemark Tinseltown Westchase, Houston, April 2, 2001. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 87 MIN.

With: Thibault - Jean Reno Rosalind/Julia - Christina Applegate Andre - Christian Clavier Hunter - Matthew Ross Angelique - Tara Reid Amber - Bridgette Wilson-Sampras Byron - John Aylward Dr. Brady - George Plimpton Wizard - Malcolm McDowell

More Film

  • (from left) Tom (Henry Golding) and

    Emilia Clarke's 'Last Christmas' Crosses $100 Million at Global Box Office

    Universal’s “Last Christmas,” a romantic comedy starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, surpassed $100 million in global ticket sales. The milestone is a win for original fare, one that is especially impressive considering the movie was skewered by critics for its wacky twist ending. After six weeks in theaters, “Last Christmas” has earned $34.4 million [...]

  • DSCF0855.RAF

    'Jumanji 2' Rules Overseas Box Office With $85 Million

    Sony’s “Jumanji: The Next Level” powered international box office charts, collecting $85 million from 34 markets over the weekend. The action-packed sequel kicked off in North America with $60 million for a global start of $145 million. “Jumanji: The Next Level” debuted in a handful of foreign territories last weekend, bringing box office receipts to [...]

  • Rey (Daisy Ridley) in STAR WARS:

    Disney Plus Signs Exclusive Distribution Deal With Canal Plus in France

    Ahead of its launch in France on March 31, 2020, Disney Plus has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Canal Plus Group, the country’s leading pay-TV company. The deal, which was first reported in the French newspaper Les Echos and confirmed by Canal Plus Group CEO Maxime Saada on his Twitter account, marks a new [...]

  • French movie actress Anna Karina smiles

    Anna Karina, French New Wave Star and Jean-Luc Godard Collaborator, Dies at 79

    French New Wave star Anna Karina, who served as a muse for Jean-Luc Godard and appeared in eight of his films, has died. She was 79. France’s culture minister, Franck Reister, announced her death in a tweet, as did her agent, Laurent Balandras, who attributed the cause as cancer. “Her gaze was the gaze of [...]

  • Frozen 2

    'Frozen 2' Sets Record as Disney's Sixth Movie to Hit $1 Billion in 2019

    “Frozen 2” is the sixth Disney movie this year to hit $1 billion globally, strengthening the studio’s sheer dominance over the box office. Those ticket sales extend the benchmark Disney set over summer, with five other films — “Avengers: Endgame,” “Aladdin,” “Toy Story 4,” “The Lion King” and “Captain Marvel” — joining the billion-dollar club [...]

  • Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black

    Box Office: 'Jumanji 2' Levels Up With $60 Million Debut, 'Richard Jewell' Stumbles

    It’s shaping up to be a merry holiday season for “Jumanji: The Next Level.” Sony’s adventure sequel debuted in first place to $60.1 million, dethroning “Frozen” after three consecutive weeks as box office champ. Those ticket sales, arriving at the higher end of industry projections, represent a healthy jump on the $36 million start of [...]

  • My Zoe

    'My Zoe': Film Review

    There are two films in Julie Delpy’s ambitious, sharply-made but unbalanced “My Zoe.” There’s the scabrous relationship melodrama, about bitter exes sharing custody of a beloved child, which contains the story’s most potent emotions. And there’s the sci-fi-inflected ethical-dilemma grief movie, which houses its most provocative ideas. Both have much to recommend them, not least [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content