"Micmacs" is a wan fizzle of a fantasy, a spirited, imaginative spectacle that never quite takes flight.
Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Amelie,” “Delicatessen”), who co-wrote the script with Guillaume Laurant, knows how to shoot an arresting image and he has a knack for peculiar characters, such as a tycoon who collects body parts of famous dead people as a hobby, or a human cannonball who is upset that no one believes he once made the Guinness Book of World Records.
The main protagonist is Bazil (Dany Boon), a video store clerk who gets shot and must spend the rest of his life with a bullet in his head. The wound causes Bazil to lose his job and his home, so he declares war on the company that manufactured the bullet, as well as the corporation that produced the land mine that killed his father. They happen to be across the street from each other.
With the help of a gang of merry oddballs and outcasts – a contortionist, a human calculator, the aforementioned cannonball – who live happily in a junkyard, Bazil sets out to carry out his elaborate revenge.
“Micmacs” is, on a certain level, a caper film, although in Jeunet’s hands, the elaborate traps and ploys the heroes set for their prey are more suited to Wile E. Coyote, loaded with cartoonish but harmless violence.
There’s a great sense of play at work throughout “Micmacs” (at one point, the music on the soundtrack swells to a crescendo, and suddenly an orchestra appears behind Bazil). The movie just isn’t much fun to sit through. Jeunet lavishes so much attention on the style of the film and his elaborate set pieces, he forgets to include people worth caring about.
We never become invested in the heroes’ crusade. Bazil might be the blandest hero to ever grace such an animated movie, and his cohorts are little more than a collection of colorful tics and mannerisms.
“Micmacs” never bores, but it piles on the whimsy so tirelessly, you choke on it.
* * ***
Cast: Dany Boon, Andre Dussollier, Nicolas Marie, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Dominique Pinon
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Running time: 1:45
Rated: R; vulgar language, sexual situations, brief violence, gore