Generic comedy gets medieval

A few simply mindless comedies hit the big screen every year. But audiences usually do not seem to mind. Just Visiting (Hollywood Pictures) employs the same humor as Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and provides a few easy laughs without challenging the mind too much. The movie – scripted after films of the late ’80s to early ’90s such as Encino Man – follows characters transported into the present day who must try assimilate to their new surroundings.

The movie begins in the 12th century on the eve of a wedding between two medieval nobles, Lady Rosalind (Christina Applegate) and Count Thibault (Jean Reno). A witch puts a potion in a goblet meant for the bride, but the prince consumes it instead. A disastrous spell gives Thibault vivid hallucinations and ultimately causes him to kill his beloved in a frenzy. To avoid execution for his crime, a wizard (Malcom McDowell) gives Thibault another potion that sends him back in time to prevent the murder from happening. But the potion’s effects go haywire, and the prince and his servant Andre (Christian Clavier) travel 30 generations ahead where they meet a museum curator, Julia Malfete, also played by Christina Applegate.

Mistaking Julia for his lost love Rosalind, the prince falls head over heels only to find out later that she is actually a descendant of his. In an effort to rectify his mistake, the wizard travels to the future to find Thibault. In the mean time, the prince and his servant wreak havoc in modern-day Chicago as they try to find a way home.

Just Visiting stars a few names audiences might recognize from the past. Christina Applegate, ex-“Married with Children” star, resurfaced for the film. Applegate proves she is better suited for her TV role as the bleached-blonde bimbo Kelly Bundy. Famous French actor Jean Reno stars opposite Applegate as Thibault. Reno, the star of the critically acclaimed film, The Professional, and action blockbuster Mission Impossible, also falls short of impressing in an uncharacteristic comedic role.

Special effects in the movie, although slightly overdone, are interesting and innovative. In the hallucination scene, character faces are morphed into various abstract forms, including snakes and several different arrangements of vegetables. The director’s use of vegetation is a strange but creative touch in the film. Director Jean Marie Poire includes a number of scenes reminiscent of Terminator 2, as characters melt into a metal liquid only to return to their human form. While the special effects add an unexpected flair, the acting is painfully overdone throughout. And the plot is convoluted at best.

The only salvation to this pseudo-blockbuster is its sporadically idiotic humor. The prince and peasant’s acclimation to the new fast-paced and technologically advanced lifestyle of the 21st century presents amusing situations. Drinking out of toilet bowls, eating dog food and drinking a bottle of Chanel No. 5 are only a few examples of funny moments.

Just Visiting is best for audiences hoping for a no-brainer. But look elsewhere for mental stimulation, a compelling plot and an outlandish love story.

Just Visiting is in theaters now.

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