Directed by Jean-Marie Poiré
This is a good comedy when you want to just turn off your brain for a while. Just Visiting is kind of like a television sitcom that way.
The idea has loads of comic possibilities — two medieval knights in contemporary Chicago due to a wizard’s foul up. (I know, I know … but you suspend your disbelief right off the top of this movie.)
The film, though, doesn’t get all it could from the premise.
It goes awry due to special effects, or the desire to litter the screen with them.
And while they might have had some bit of “wow” power in 2001, technology quickly left the movie behind and looking very unimaginative.
Most of them are good, in their way, but they’re nothing we haven’t seen before and too many scenes look as if they (the effects) are in the movie simply as an excuse to dump in some more CGI stuff.
It’s too bad they didn’t do more with developing the script.
Christina Applegate and Jean Reno are both very good but appear a bit lost, as if they desperately want someone to throw them some kind of story to work with. Jean Reno in particular has a magnificent comic presence and great timing.
Similarly, Applegate has a great sense for comedy.
Both actors definitely get the most from the little they have to work with but no sooner do they get something with some meat then it suddenly stops and idiotic special effects take centre stage.
Malcolm McDowell appears to be aware he’s in a movie where actors are support props for the effects and plays it that way. I guess he’s learned a thing or two about Hollywood and these kinds of movies.
What makes this discouraging is that when the special effects are put away, this is an incredibly funny movie. As a comedy team, Christian Clavier and Jean Reno are wonderful together.
Also very good are Matt Ross as Hunter and Bridgette Wilson as Amber playing a pair of conniving reprobates.
In other words, the movie has tremendous potential and is often hilarious but could have been much more. It ends up being something of a disappointment for having not achieved all it could from a fun concept and good actors.