It must have been a real case of déjà vu -- to invoke a French phrase -- for the stars and director of Just Visiting, who worked together on the French-language original eight years earlier. But not all reunions are happy ones, and this one in particular fails to justify an update of the popular Les Visiteurs to 21st century Chicago. The location, chosen for American consumption, is problematic; now the magical potion must not only bend time from the 12th century, but also teleport its drinkers from England. But let's forget the conundrums, of which there are many, and concentrate on the ample flaws within the film's established framework. One glaring annoyance is that the transplanted royal (Jean Réno) shows none of the noble social graces to adapt to the customs of his hosts, still messily flinging table scraps to his subhuman manservant (Christian Clavier) even in Chicago's fanciest restaurant, despite the evident horror of those around. Some of this is supposed to be a joke about the congenital rudeness of the French, but it goes too far toward slapstick. Clavier eating and knocking over everything in sight continues the head-shaking trend. Christina Applegate does acquit herself well as a poor man's Jennifer Aniston, and Tara Reid is likable in a smaller role. The film has some decent special effects and art direction, especially during an opening witchcraft-inspired hallucination by Réno's character. Ultimately, though, it's a pretty tired fish-out-of-water romantic comedy that only shows rare flickers of inspiration.
by Derek Armstrong review