A French nobleman, Count Thibault of Malfete (Jean Reno) and his servant Andre (Christian Clavier) find themselves in modern-day Chicago – transported from the 12th century due to a wizard’s flawed time-travel potion. Confused, lost and overwhelmed, they meet Thibault’s descendant Julia Malfete (Christina Applegate) and her scheming fiancé Junter (Matthew Ross). Thibault and Andre soon realize they must quickly find a way back to their own time – otherwise Julia and Thibault’s entire lineage will never exist.
Films that feature visitors from a different time have been a source of humor and adventure throughout Hollywood’s history, (“The Time Machine,” “Visit To a Small Planet,” “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” “Time Bandits”). These films grabbed us because we immediately questioned what it would be like for those from the past to suddenly be thrust into the digital age. And “Just Visiting” takes full advantage of two 12th century bumpkins suddenly experiencing modern luxuries. From indoor toilets to the emancipation of bondservants, nothing goes without an astonished observance by our two time travelers. This not only makes for some sidesplitting humor, but it also reminds us of just how fortunate we are. Life without E-mail? Perish the thought! ……. Jean Reno, best known for more dramatic screen appearances (“The Professional,” “Ronin”) has a flare for comedy. And a diminutive Christian Clavier (also one of the writers) aptly supports him. Christina Applegate, on the other hand, has a little trouble with subtle humor, but who can blame her? On “Married With Children,” there was no requirement for subtlety. ….. Director Jean-Marie Gaubert moves the story – and the visual gags – along with an easy effort, making “Just Visiting” diverting and often-hysterical fluff…… Unfortunately, Paramount must have feared a G-rating. Therefore, the film possesses three profanities, first from the film’s villain, then from an abusive neighbor, to assure a more mature rating……. Just once, I wish a film would open with one character facing the camera, suddenly uttering a list of objectionable expletives for no other apparent reason than garnering a PG-13 or R rating. At the end of the brief tirade, he would then say, “There, now that we got that out of the way, let us proceed with our story.” The film would continue on without any obscenity or crudity. I could then warn my readers to come a minute late. Then both those offended by inappropriate language and those afraid that a G-rating stands for children only, would be satisfied. (It’s a joke, it’s a joke.)