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Just Visiting

Starring Jean Reno, Christian Clavier, Christina Applegate
Screenplay by Christian Clavier & Jean-Marie Poiré & John Hughes
Based on Les Visiteurs by Jean-Marie Poiré and Christian Clavier
Directed by Jean-Marie Gaubert

IN SHORT: Sometimes too frenetic for its own good comedy. Just the kind kidlets seem to like. [Rated . 88 minutes]

Before we begin, parents should be aware that there are two four letter words that flash by in this otherwise flashy enough for the little kidlets movie, but nothing, sadly, that my niece didn't know when she was ten years old. Blink hard and they're gone like the wind. Everything else that kidlets like, from biological jokes to crashing cars and breaking glass is here, certified for American audiences by the comic mind of John Hughes, who knows a thing or two about making movies that kids and teens will go to see.

A century or so ago, Mark Twain wrote a story called A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court in which a modern guy brought his advanced knowledge to pre-midieval England. Just Visiting flips that idea on its ear, bring two twelfth century souls to the twenty-first century. And, oy, what a mess they make!

Once upon a time, or words like that as narrated by an uncredited Kelsey Grammer, there was to be a fine wedding between the Princess Rosalind (Christina Applegate) and French nobleman Thibault, Count of Malfete and Papincourt, Duke of Anjou, Baron of Orleans and Lord of Libourne (Jean Reno). Unknown to either of them, the Earl of Warwick (Robert Glenister) coveted the hand (and the vast wealth that came with it) of the Princess and had conspired with a sorceress hag (Valerie Griffiths) to cast a spell which would leave Thibault dead. But faster than anyone can say "oops!" the whole dastardly plan goes wrong and Thibault faces execution for a murder he did not want to commit. His only way out, a magic potion prepared by an English wizard (Malcolm McDowell) which was to send the Count back in time to prevent them dastardly events from ever occurring.

What can we say about the efficacy of potions prepared by a man who drives (sic) on the wrong side of the road? We can say that the Count, and his trusty peasant Andre (Christian Clavier) don't go back in time. They come forward 900 years to land in the exotic Kingdom of ChicagoIll. There they are befriended by Julia Malfete (Applegate), the spitting image of the Count's lost love. No, it's not what you think. The out-of-time pair must first survive modern challenges to their sanity: toilets, toothbrushes, and those tasty little cakes found in the bottom of men's urinals, not to mention mechanical beasties like planes, trains and automobiles. Julia, for her part, sees a spitting resemblance between the Count and a French cousin lost three years earlier in a yachting accident. His death left her in charge of the family estate, which fiancé Hunter Baxter (Matthew Ross) is preparing to split up and sell off.

The scurrilous varlet then plans to run off with his mistress, Amber (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras). Don'tcha just hate that? While Thibault teaches his great-great (and so on) descendant how to heft a broadsword, his servile companion discovers the true meaning of freedom in the company of the gardener next door (Tara Reid). And making his way through the streets of Chicago is that old wizard, who has followed the duo through time, to bring them home. As he will discover, modern day eye of newt packs a helluva lot more wallop than the stuff he was used to.

Yep, fart jokes for the kiddies. A buncha babes for us dirty old men. A strong femme lead who is not a damsel in distress for the ladies. Time to buy the extra large bucket of popcorn.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Just Visiting, he would have paid . . .


A perfect for popcorn, light and fluffy dateflick. Just Visiting transplants the French creative team that did a similar nobleman out of time flick back in 1993. For the most part, the relocation works. It is, at times, too frenetic but that's balanced by more than enough gag material.

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