Homeless and destitute, Bazil falls in with a gang of other discarded people on the fringes of society, living in a junkyard: an ex-con, a contortionist, a former human cannonball, a human calculator, a machinery artist. They all have questionable talents, except when they are united. Bazil enlists his new friends to help him take down the arms dealers.
With a series of serious practical jokes that unfold like Rube Goldberg machines, the gang pits the two weapons-manufacturer CEOs against each other and stand back to watch the damage escalate — until an exiled African dictator complicates matters.
Micmacs earns its many physical-acting nods to Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and The Three Stooges. Boon has a lanky body and an everyman mug but he comes alive with frequent poetic physical moires.
Jeunet (Amélie, Delicatessen) is, as ever, visually inventive, but usually his filmmaking vim serves the characters or at least the plot. In Micmacs, the fruits of Jeunet's imagination is occasionally untethered from the proceedings. The whole never really coheres, but it's alternatively a little too narratively sticky to come off as an impressionistic statement. And Micmac's references to classic film noir like The Big Sleep are undercooked.
Moments linger in the mind after the dust has settled: Bazil's expressive finger snaps and hand claps that are a kind of gesticulated language; the tongue of the cannonballer (the ever-appreciated Dominique Pinon) wagging at a police dog; a dress-and-blouse outfit twirling in mechanized dance.
But Jeunet doesn't quite pull this one off in the end.
Micmacs plays at Ridgeway Four through Thursday, July 22nd, so act now if you're going to.