Parents' Guide to

Just Visiting

By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Time travel comedy with bathroom humor.

Movie PG-13 2001 80 minutes
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This remake tones down the chaotic bloodshed (replacing it with expensive but unnecessary computer-generated special effects), but not the bad taste. Thibault and Andre are grungy, foul-smelling and gluttonous, and they react to modern-day civilization with bewilderment and drawn swords, as they trash cars, TVs, and refrigerators. The filmmakers delight in repeating these antics repeatedly -- Andre is particularly enchanted by toilets -- and the jokes don't get any fresher the second time around. Neither do Applegate's blandly deadpan reactions. Scriptwriter John Hughes helped update the scenario, and his touch is most apparent in the subplot of Julia learning to be a strong, assertive individual. She owes thanks to her semi-barbaric ancestor Thibault, who enforces the Malfete family motto "Courage is our creed." The movie gets more entertaining near the end, with a cute role for McDowell, the only actor here who underplays as the fashion-conscious sorcerer. There's also a genuinely rousing climactic chase.

You can find 1993's Les Visiteurs on video -- be warned, however, that it's rated R for gore and bad taste. In a rare move for a Hollywood remake of a foreign film, the original French director, Jean-Marie Poire, came along for the new version, as did stars Jean Reno and Christian Clavier. The European actors are a refreshing change from, say, Mel Gibson (in his comedy roles) and Martin Short, but their performances are grounded in little more than slapstick and buffoonish mayhem.

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