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Just Visiting (2001)

A knight from the past faces the perils of the future

Directed by:

Jean-Marie Poiré

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 84 minutes

UK Certificate: pg

On DVD

Country: France, United States

Jean Reno is Count Thibault, medieval knight and French nobleman, newly arrived in England to marry his beloved Princess Rosalind (Christina Applegate) who is the daughter of King Henry (Richard Bremmer). Accompanying him for the wedding are his family and his common-as-muck servant André (Christian Clavier). Unfortunately for Thibault, he has a rival for the Princess – the Earl of Warwick (Robert Glenister), who means to get the girl by fair means or foul.

Warwick engages the services of a witch to put a spell on Thibault's wine at a banquet, making him hallucinate and act crazed. In his madness, Thibault strikes out with his sword at the banquet guests, who appear monstrous to him. Unfortunately, he cuts down the Princess, and is distraught as he realises what he has done. The King has him dragged off as a condemned man.

Thibault's ignorant but loyal servant André finds a wizard (Roddy McDowell) who he hopes can help. Peasant and wizard sneak in past Thibault's jailers disguised as priests, and it is agreed that Thibault must be sent briefly back in time so that he can save the Princess from himself and set things right. The wizard prepares a potion, which both Thibault and André drink, but unfortunately he has left out one of the spell's ingredients and the two travellers are lost in the corridors of time. The wizard has no choice but to pursue them. When Thibault and André awake, they find themselves in the modern day, confused by everything they see. With the help of one of Thibault's descendants, they must find the wizard and get home if Thibault's family is to survive.

This is an Americanised remake of the French film 'Les Visiteurs', with Reno and Clavier reprising their roles. While it's not a patch on the original, it remains an entertaining film. Unlike the majority of time-travel films, it doesn't make the mistake of having the travellers acclimatise easily to their new environment – Thibault and André remain confused innocents throughout, constantly amazed at the wonders of modern life. The film doesn't pretend to be great art, but as light comedy is more than slightly entertaining, and does provide a perspective on the modern day as seen through the eyes of the past.

Features the voice of Kelsey Grammer providing the narration. Includes appearances by Bill Bailey and George Plimpton

It's Got: Good performances from Jean Reno and Christian Clavier.

It Needs: A bigger budget to do it justice.

DVD Extras Fails to take advantage of the opportunity to include much extra content. Extras: Trailers. DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

Kate and Leopold, The Family Man

Summary

Appealing comedy without pretensions, having some good gags and a fair amount of slapstick.

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