am a sucker for Fist Out of Water movies. No matter how
bad, how poorly conceived, or how incompetently executed, even a bad Fish Out of
Water movie can make me smile. Some of my favorites have been the Crocodile
Dundee series with Paul Hogan and the Farscape TV show. I couldn't
really tell you why I like the genre so much, even though I've seen hundreds of
them, and can pretty much predict what's going to happen from the first moments
of culture clash. There's just something about a guy/gal/group trying to cope
with a whole alien society competely different from his own that intrigues me.
That brings us to Just Visiting, a successful Fish
Out of Water French film turned into an American version. It's still made and
produced and stars the French, but with Christina Applegate as the heroine, and
a cast of other American actors in supporting roles. Still I consider Just
Visiting a French film -- if not in aesthetics and style, then at least in
its production backgrounds. I couldn't tell you how faithful this version is to
the French one, since I have yet to see that version.
The American version that
I did see is as predictable as all the other Fish Out of Water that I've seen,
and it provides all the necessary laughs that I would expect. The protagonists
in Visiting are two Frenchmen from the 12th century, a
nobleman and his peasant servant. With protagonists like that to pit against 21st
century Chicago, you know there's plenty of fun to be had.
Is there anything worthwhile to learn from Just
Visiting? Nah. Then again, was there anything worthwhile to learn from Crocodile
Dundee other than a man with a big knife in New York City is funny? Nah. The
same holds true for Visiting. It's a goofy, highly predictable, and funny
movie. The first 40 minutes, in fact, are its most effective and hilarious. What
makes the movie even more outrageous is that the two Frenchmen don't even try to
fit into the 21st century in the first 40 minutes, but acts as if
they're still in the 12th century, gross behavior and caste system
The funniest bits include when the two Frenchmen goes to a fancy
restaurant with Applegate's Juliet and her fiancé Hunter; another funny
sequence is when Jean Reno as the French nobleman Count Malfete and Christian
Claviar as Malfete's peasant servant, Andre, take a bath. Sure, there are some
lowbrow moments, but if you wanted Shakespeare, should you even bother with Just
Visiting in the first place?
The acting is competent all around, with the standout being
Claviar as Andre, whose pratfalls and eating habits provide much of the laugh.
As Andre brags to a hotdog vendor, "I've eaten every kind of dog!" And
he's not talking about hotdogs, folks. Reno plays his Count with a straight face
and is the straight man to Claviar's goofy Andre. Tara Reid shows up as Juliet's
neighbor and as a love interest for Andre. She convinces him that he's no one's
servant and shows him what being independent is. The two's scenes are not the
funniest, but does give Andre some depth in an otherwise shallow movie. There
are some attempts at a message about self-determination and courage, but those
fall by the waysides when you have Andre eating dog food and Andre and Malfete
attacking a car they mistaken for a dragon.
There are only two kinds of people who go to see Fish Out
of Water movies. Those who likes Fish Out of Water movies of any kind, and those
who thinks they're above Fish Out of Water movies. If you fit in the second
category, avoid this movie at all costs. But if you're like me and enjoy a good
(or even a not so good) Fish Out of Water movie, then by all means see Just
Visiting. As previously mentioned, I'm a sucker for this kind of movie, and
fortunately for me, Just Visiting's first 40 minutes had me in stitches,
and is worth the price of admission in itself.