Verdict: Creatif? Mais oui. Fantastique? Non.
After the excesses of his epic World War I tale A Very Long Engagement and the mega-whimsy of international arthouse hit Amelie, here director Jeunet seems to have to returned to the imaginative worlds of his earlier works.
Like the gothic fantasies of Delicatessen and City of Lost Children - both co-directed with Marc Caro - Micmacs is centred on a group of only-in-the-movies oddballs fighting the powers that be. If you liked the Gallic designer zaniness of those, you'll sure to adore Micmacs for more of Jeunet's trademark visual inventiveness, which, as ever, is so abundant it risks outdoing the grown-up fairytale of a story beneath.
That concerns Bazil (Dany Boon), a videostore guy who, having lost his soldier father to a landmine as a boy, gets a bullet in the head during a drive-by shooting. He survives but the shell can't be removed in case it kills him.
Having come in for so much personal attention from the French munitions industry, he sets out to get his own back on the bosses of two rival and neighbouring armaments companies. He falls in with a ragtag bunch of junkyard-dwellers, all possessing idiosyncratic talents (contortionist, maths genius, human cannonball ...) who form a kind of steampunk Mission: Impossible squad.
And the so the capers begin, with the team hatching one mad plan after another. And that is where Micmacs unfortunately starts to try the patience.
It doesn't help that it's encumbered by complicated plot convolutions involving everything from rooftop espionage missions to negotiations over purchases of expired celebrity body parts, as well as ramming home a simplistic message about weapons makers. They're bad apparently.
And poor parents to boot.
That Jeunet proclaims this loudly and repeatedly in a movie while finding time to fire a small rubberfaced man (Jeunet regular Dominique Pinon) out of a cannon is something, perhaps.
But though there's plenty of gadgetry and gimmickry that dazzles here, unfortunately Micmacs doesn't quite entrance.
It doesn't help that Boon, a huge star in France (especially after his own hit Welcome to the Sticks) has a screen presence that rides a fine line between effortless and dopey.
Cast: Dany Boon, Andre Dussollier, Nicolas Marie, Julie Ferrier, Dominique Pinon
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Rating: M (violence & sexual references)
Running time: 104 mins