Les Visiteurs
Parts I & II Box Set

Starring: Jean Reno and Christian Clavier
Arrow Films
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 27 August 2007

Jean Reno and Christian Clavier star as medieval knight, Count Godefroy, and his loyal but grotesque vassal, Jacquouille, who are accidentally catapulted through time into the 20th Century by a bumbling wizard.

The adventure begins when Godefroy saves the King of France's life during battle and is rewarded by being allowed leave in order to seek a bride. While travelling to meet his loved one, he and his companions capture a witch, who secretly poisons Godefroy with a hallucinogenic potion. Deeply under the influence of the drug on arrival at his betrothed's castle, Godefroy manages to shoot his future father-in-law in the head with a crossbow, effectively destroying any hopes he had of wedded bliss. But all is not lost. With the help of the Wizard Eusebius, Godefroy plans to go back in time to amend his fatal mistake. Unfortunately, a forgotten ingredient sees the wizard's spell propelling Godefroy and Jacquouille 700 years into the future where they are confronted by the countless perils of the 20th century, from cars and flushing toilets to telephones and clingfilm.

Les Visiteurs is one of the most popular movies in French cinema history (and famous worldwide at the time of its release for taking more money at the French box office than Jurassic Park). The movie is wall to wall slapstick and rather silly, but in a good way. If you don't take it too seriously, and just go with the flow, this is not a half bad film. However, it will probably appeal more to the younger audience than anyone over the age of 15.

One thing I noticed was that Eric Levi's music for the opening scenes bared more than a passing resemblance to Michael Kamen's music for the 1991 movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Whether this is a clever pastiche, or Levi ripping Kamen's music off is open to debate.

Having survived (but only just) the events of the first film, Godefroy is forced to return to the future from the relative safety of medieval France in Les Visiteurs 2: The Corridors of Time. This time his quest involves locating the missing family jewels, along with a sacred relic that guarantees the fertility of his wife-to-be. Naturally, his repellent servant Jacquouille is also on hand to make matters far more complicated, and hilarious, than either of them expected.

To be honest Les Visiteurs 2 is not a very good film. The gags get old quickly and the plot is a terrible reworking of the first movie. Several of the actors are different (most notably Sir Godefroy's love interest) and the whole project was a really bad idea. Add to that the fact that this is really a vehicle for wall-to-wall advertising, and you soon realise why the second movie got off the ground - it was probably in profit before it was released, thanks to the numerous high profile advertising deals.

Again, like the first movie, the comedy is more likely to appeal to the younger generation (shame this box set has a 15 rating).

There is only one extra on these discs, and that's the trailer for the first movie.

While not a total disaster, I can think of a lot better DVD releases I'd rather spend £20 on.

Pete Boomer

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