Saturday, September 11, 2010

Micmacs [Movie Review]

Micmacs is a movie of spectacle. The plot is fast moving. The plans are bizarre. The characters over the top. The two villains are child eating monsters, and the team’s running round them is hilarious to watch. But there’s a problem, and it’s that the spectacle is all there is. Under the weird, glossy surface, there just isn’t much there.

The movie is primarily concerned with a crusade against arms dealers, but the crusades beginnings and motivations remain sketchy, to say the least. The main character’s father, a soldier, was killed by a land mine, and the main character was shot in the head (but survived), yet I never really grasped how either one of those necessitates the total end of weapons production. But anyway, the plan is to incite a war between the two most prominent dealers.

The crusaders are a motley crew that live under a rotting scrapyard and each of them has one quirky characteristic. For instance, one is flexible and can fit inside small places, like refrigerators. That’s it, though. There’s no hint of personality beyond that, and the cast is large enough that characters are only called upon when their particular talent is needed, rendering the whole group to be like different shaped keys, dragged out when the right lock presents itself, rather than actual people.

The schemes themselves are the Rube Goldberg of espionage operations. These are, by far and away, the best part of the movie, and trying to figure out how the various elements are going to come together before they do is great fun. That being said, it’s almost impossible to actually figure out why their plans are so byzantine in their complexity, nor why something that dependant on chance succeeds again and again.

In order to enter one compound, the main character contracts a pornographer, who then shows one of his people getting fucked in the window opposite the arms dealer’s lair. The security guard – who happened to be looking at exactly the right time, happened to be male, happened to be a bit of a voyeur, etc – is distracted by this. While he watches, Flexible gets into the place’s air ducts. Note that there were no cameras on the ducts, so there was nothing to stop her from getting into them in the first place.

At this point, rather than simply proceeding into the place now that she’d past the guard, she opens the vent in the guardroom and slowly dangles herself down – trusting the guard to be too enraptured to turn around – and drugs the man’s coffee, which was luckily hot enough to dissolve the substance. The guard then drinks it, falls asleep, and they’re in. Oh. Okay. Clearly the most efficient way to accomplish that.

Really, I think that that plan just about sums up Micmacs at its best and at its worst. If you’re willing to just go with the flow and enjoy the spectacle, you could have a good time, and the various plots are, though moderately to extremely nonsensical, probably worth the price of admission. That being said, the movie never explores anything deeper than mentioning it off hand, trying to understand why the characters are doing any one thing is absolutely impossible, and there are enough never explored pathways (if your character could drop dead at any second from a bullet in his brain, and then never does, it feels a bit like a Chekov’s Gun, to say the least) and…really?...moments (an explosion in a crowded urban area that knocks out windows blocks away and occurs in the middle of the day causes no casualties) that it’s a tenuous recommendation at best.

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