Les Visiteurs Review

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Godefroy de Papincourt is a war-hero in 12th Century France, engaged to the King's daughter, all is going well until under the spell of a witch he murders his future father-in-law. A local wizard suggests all can be rectified by going back in time and undoing the misdeed, the plan goes awry, however, when the sorcerer sends him along with his servant forward in time, to modern day France. The two have to find their way back to the 12th century.


With a staggering take of about $75 million in its home country, this has become the biggest-grossing French film of all time — a fact which only goes to confirm that, when it comes to tastes in comedy, we are worlds apart from our Gallic chums, especially given that this farce about a medieval pair propelled into the 20th Century is, when it comes down to it, really quite ordinary. Kicking off in 1122, the warrior Godefroy De Papincourt (Reno) saves the life of King Louis The Fat in battle and is granted the hand of Lady Frenegonde (Lemercier) as a reward. All's well until Godefroy, under the evil influence of a witch, accidentally crossbows his future father-in-law. Cue one cancelled wedding and a trip to a local wizard whose solution to the problem — a trip through the "tunnels of time" to rectify the misdeed — results in Godefroy, along with his mischievous manservant Jacquouille (Clavier), being hurled into the modern age instead. And that, essentially, is it in a one-joke movie in which the laughs mostly derive from the two nincompoops coping with the planes, trains and automobiles of the 20th Century. Of course there are various jolly japes and the odd engaging character but, amid Clavier's burping and farting and the general slapstick tomfoolery obviously popular on the other side of the Chunnel, what is billed as some kind of Pythonesque adventure ultimately comes across like an episode of Catweazle.

"Sire, it stinketh," yells Clavier to his master at one point, breathing in what lies before them. And, you know, he's not far wrong.