"Are there any pygmy midgets? How tall are they?"
MICMACS is a story of action and consequence. After the death of his father by a partially buried land mine, Bazil's (Dany Boon) life has rightfully fallen of the hinges. He is constantly chastised and reprimanded by his teachers finally leading to a stealthy escape. We catch up to Bazil years later, as he lives a life of obscurity, settling in as a lowly movie rental shop attendant. It is here where his life is forever changed a second time. While Bazil sits at work--eating cheese and lip synching the Howard Hawk's classic THE BIG SLEEP--he catches a stray bullet right between the eyes.
From there, a series of inauspicious events inflict Bazil: the doctors leaves the bullet in which could lead to instant death at any moment; he is fired from his job, and he loses his apartment--all his possessions sold in the process. After sleeping under cardboard and peddling for loose change, he is rescued by Placard, 'Slammer' to his friends. Bazil is indoctrinated by Slammer and his band of off-the-wall misfits, whose day-to-day jobs consist of finding scrap metal to turn into reusable contraptions.
Bazil soon has an epiphany of sorts when a truck shipment of his stops directly in between the two companies that have affected him the most: an arms dealer, whose land mine killed his father, and an ammunition manufacturer, where the fateful bullet came from. This realization sets off a chain reaction to a redemption for our protagonist; one that Slammer and his merry men are more than happy to volunteer for.
Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's most famous effort was 2001's AMÉLIE, and with MICMACS, Jeunet has once again captured a scintillating story, one that in the wrong hands could have been a tedious affair. I suppose there could be an argument for similarities to Steven Soderbergh's OCEAN'S ELEVEN. They are revenge stories to an extent, and both offer an eclectic cast--although Eleven's is more international. I prefer MICMACS however, as it is infused with much greater heart and feeling. There's always a fear of traveling into absurdity (especially with a makeshift family living in a garbage heap), but it somehow manages beautifully. Amongst Slammer's crew are Fracasse: who briefly held the Guinness world record for distance shot in a cannon; Mama Chow: the de facto leader and resident chef; Petit Pierre: a frail old inventor with superhuman strength; Calculette: a young woman who can compute equations with the speed of a computer; and finally La Mome Caoutchouc: a contortionist who spends time relaxing in refrigerators.
Jeunet's greatest attribute is his ability to make us feel for his characters. We fell in love with Audrey Tautou's Amélie, and we care about Bazil's quest for retribution. There is a hodgepodge of humour and excitement, as well as an infusion of realism with the unfortunate actuality of illegal weapons distribution. Ultimately, what is most important for Bazil is not the search to undo the injustices to his family, but the fact that he becomes a part of a new one.