Friday, March 11, 2016

JUST VISITING (2001) (Blu-ray Review)

Label: Mill Creek Entertainment
Rating: PG13
Region Code: A
Duration: 89 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 
Video: 1080P HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Jean-Marie Gaubert
Cast: Jean-Marie Gaubert, Jean Reno, Christina Applegate, Christian Clavier

Synopsis: Just Visiting is one very funny fish-out-of-water comedy the whole family will enjoy. It's 12th century France and Count Thibault of Malfete (Jean Reno, The Da Vinci Code) finds his beautiful bride-to-be (Christina Applegate, Anchorman) done in by malevolent magic. So he and his loyal servant Andre (Christian Clavier, Les Visiteurs) request the help of a local wizard to right the wrong and bring his beloved back. But the wizardry goes awry and the pair is transported to 21st century Chicago where they meet Thibault's descendant Julia (Applegate) and her scheming fiancé. With their timeless values of honor and courage, they wreak havoc as they foil diabolical plots in modern-day Chicago and try to find their way back home.

The movie opens in 12th century England as Lord Thibault Malféte (Jean Reno, The Professional) is about to marry his beloved Princess Rosalind (Christina Applegate, Married with Children) when his enemy slips him a witch-brewed potion that causes him to hallucinate madly at the wedding ceremony, during which he envisions his would-be wife as a grotesque creature, defending himself he plunges his sword through her. Imprisoned and awaiting trial for murder his dim-witted servant André (Christian Clavier) seeks the assistance of an wizard played by Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange). Drinking the potion should send Malféte and André back in time to the moment just before Rosalind's death, but the Wizard forgets a crucial ingredient and the medieval men are transported not just to the 21st century, but through time and place across the pond to Chicago.  

Just Visiting is a remake of the French comedy Les Visiteurs from the '90s, which also starred Reno and Clavier in the very same roles. The script was given a rewrite by '80s icon John Hughes (The Breakfast Club) but from what I have gathered it stays pretty true to the original source material with only a few minor changes, Hughes wrote his beloved Chicago into the remake. Of course the original movie didn't star the lovely Christina Applegate, who appears again in the future as a descendant of Lord Malféte, who for some reason looks exactly like 12th century would-be wife, which is strange, but I will accept it. 

In the 21st Century Applegate is Julia, an employee ofa Chicago Museum who has just inherited the family castle in England, but her deceitful and greedy fiance Hunter (Matt Ross, HBO's Big Love) wants her to sell it so he can cash-in on her family money. Julia ends up encountering and befriending Lord Malféte and  André much to Hunter's chagrin, and what ensues is a silly stranger in strange time and place sort of movie that would have seemed more appropriate in the '80s than the '00s, but for what it is this was a pleasant enough distraction featuring the aristocratic Lord parading around Chicago in his royal get-up, with his man-servant  André discovering that in this brave new world he need not eat scraps from off the floor, even discovering love with gardener Angelique (Tara Reid, American Pie), who is actually not awful here, she is tolerable as the love interest

The main event of the movie is Lord Malféte bonding with his modern day descendant, encouraging her to not sell the family castle, empowering her to stand-up against her loathsome fiancee, played in '80s asshole fashion by Matt Ross, who is a guy I loved in HBO's Big Love, again playing a slimy asshole,the poor guy just has the sort of face that screams 'not a good guy'. Reno and Applegate are charming together, both as 12th century lovers and modern day descendants, and Malcolm McDowell offers a bit of fun as the absent-minded Wizard, but I wouldn't come into this expecting something more than what it is, a silly comedy.

Just Visiting arrives on HD from Mill Creek Entertainment with an AVC encode in the original widescreen scope aspect ratio looking decently sharp if not overly impressive. Mill Creek have opted to go with a lossy Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 audio option, which does the job just fine, but won't give your surround sound any sort of sonic work out, and the disc is bare bones. 

Just Visiting is a fun watch, not a movie that will linger0 in your mind for any length of time, just a very disposable slice of comedy entrainment, and one that can be owned for less than ten dollars on Blu-ray. 2.5/5