So that’s why they put those fuzzy things on hats.

Theatrical Release Date: 06/04/2010
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Cast: Dany Boon, André Dussollier, Nicolas Marié, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Yolande Moreau, Julie Ferrier, Omar Sy, Dominique Pinon, Michel Crémadès, Marie-Julie Baup

After a bit of googling, it appears that “Micmacs à tire l’arigot” (the full title) comes to approximate “A Heap of Troubles” in English. Well, that’s a pretty good description of the life that Bazil (Dany Boon) is living in the latest film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (who Americans may know best from “Amélie” fame.)

Bazil’s parents were killed by a land mine, manufactured by a leading weapons manufacturer. Years later, a drive-by shooting leaves a bullet lodged in his mind, a slug manufactured by the competing weapons manufacturer. This incident leads to the loss of Bazil’s job and he is taken in by a motley collection of Parisian outcasts – think circus performers without a big top to perform in. They agree to help Bazil exact justice for the wrongs done by arms dealers whose sole motivation is money, regardless of the collateral damage done (intentional or not).

What works best about the film are the elaborate and elegant schemes concocted by Bazil and his cohorts. As each possess a certain skill set (contortionism, human cannonball, calculation of any kind, etc.), it allows for a Rube Goldbergian approach to pulling off elaborate cons. Each set-up is fun and full of whimsy, matching beautifully with Jeunet’s style and aesthetic.

The characters are a charming set of quirky performers, who’d seemingly be at home in a vaudevillian off-Broadway show. While it can easily be argued that the film is more style than substance, each of the actors manage to engender affection from the audience – despite it being more about their mannerisms than the script (Boon’s skills as a renowned mime pay off in this regard as he can take simple and subtle movements and make them seem much grander and meaningful).

Those wanting a more earnest discussion about the repercussions of weapons proliferation and the morals/ethics behind the corporations responsible may want to look elsewhere though, as Jeunet seems perfectly content to focus on the micro-dynamics of the characters rather than the far reaching effects that may result from all of their actions.

That being said, should you be looking for a light, enjoyable tale full of acrobatic and comedic feats, “Micmacs” is the perfect fit and the film earns a 4 out of 5. I found it completely charming and a welcome breath of fresh air amidst all the big budget explosion fests and crass, unfunny comedies dominating the multiplexes.