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Never particularly good but perfectly pleasant if you’re in an undemanding mood
on 19 April 2017
Just Visiting is a slightly curious beast, at once a sort of sequel to the first two smash hit French Les Visiteurs comedies that failed to replicate their local success abroad in part due to especially poor subtitle translations and a sort of English-language American remake, albeit with the two French stars, Jean Reno and Christian Clavier, complete with new character names but in all other respects reprising their roles as a Norman noble and his disgusting servant who find themselves transported to the 21st Century by witchcraft. There’s no reference to events in the first two films and the double role of the love of Reno’s life and his distant descendent has changed from Valerie Lemercier/Muriel Robin to Christina Applegate, now some sort of museum expert in Chicago (it’s never very clear exactly what she does) with self-confidence issues and a duplicitous yuppie boyfriend trying to milk her family estate for all its worth. The more violent humour that saw innocent bystanders horribly killed (always good for a laugh from French audiences) has similarly been dispensed with in favour of something more akin to a PG-13 version of a Disney family comedy, which perhaps isn’t so surprising with co-producers Hollywood Pictures owned by Disney and John Hughes at the dog-end of his career contributing to the screenplay.
A flop both in the US and in France, it put its American production arm into hibernation for five years and the series on ice for sixteen until a fourth film, Les Visiteurs: La Revolution, failed to even gross its budget. It doesn’t help that the film evidently went through a bit of pre-release shredding, with characters referring to things that aren’t in the picture anymore or prominently billed supporting players only glimpsed in the background, and then only if you’re looking really hard with a finger over the freeze frame button. Along the way a few interesting moments gets glossed over but the end result is one of those films that’s never particularly good but is perfectly pleasant if you’re in an undemanding mood, offering the odd smile rather than any big laughs. More two-and-a-half stars than three.
The only extra on the UK DVD is a trailer (the US release also included a trailer) while Mill Creek's Region A-locked US Bluray has no extrasat all but has a decent widescreen transfer.