Micmacs à Tire-Larigot, which translates to “Non-stop Shenanigans,” doesn’t quite live up to the title or the typical amazingness of a Jean-Pierre Jeunet movie. While it follows a similar formula to that of Jeunet fan favorites Amélie and Delicatessen, it is possibly for that very reason that there seems to be something overly stylized, overly conventional (for Jeunet) about this addition to his directorial repertoire.
Our introduction to Bazil (Dany Boon) is vaguely reminiscent of the one in Amélie, wherein we are shown a childhood shrouded in tragedy. In this case, Bazil’s father is killed by the war artillery manufactured by two major weapon companies, one specializing in bullets and the other in land mines. The tragedy does not end there for Bazil, and no, it’s not just because he grows up to work in a video store and repeat the dialogue to The Big Sleep to himself while waiting for a customer to come in. A random shooting outside of the video store results in catastrophe when the gun falls onto the floor, goes off, and hits Bazil right in the forehead. The sadness could’ve ended there, but no, Bazil had to survive.
After spending a bit of time in the hospital, Bazil reemerges into the world to find that his apartment has been leased and his job has been given to someone else. And yeah, it does represent how every cog in the wheel can be ruthlessly replaced. But unlike others, who might be inclined to jump into the Seine, Bazil hangs out and uses cardboard boxes as blankets. One day, while dancing in the street for money, Bazil is found by another guttersnipe called Placard who offers him refuge in the comfort of a group of other misfits and societal rejects.
Bazil quickly grows close with his adopted family, particularly with the blonde contortionist (quelle surprise). But Bazil’s gratitude is temporarily trumped by the discovery that the man responsible for manufacturing the bullet that is lodged in his head works in a building directly across from the man responsible for manufacturing the land mine that killed his father during the war (which war, I don’t know, there’s too fucking many to choose from). It is then and there that a plan is hatched in Bazil’s bulleted brain: Pit these two men against each other until their desire for vengeance destroys them.
It is after a few rather insignificant attempts at sabotage that Bazil realizes he could use the help of his ragtag gang. Hilarity ensues, etc., etc. and presumably there is an underlying message about arms dealing, but Micmacs is something of a disappointment after waiting for five years for Jeunet to direct a new movie. I’m not saying he should have stopped at A Very Long Engagement, but I might if the next effort doesn’t bowl me over.