Ahh, the early 2000’s. Tthis was a strange era in movies. Everything Hollywood made during this time seemed more innocent, less serious, and more colorful. While there were some decent movies during this period, many others were rather forgettable, like 2001’s “Just Visiting.”
This edition of I Paid to See That is a unique one. That’s because unlike most of the movies I write about in this series, I did not see 2001’s “Just Visiting” in the theater. Now that I think about it, I didn’t even see the movie the year it came out. It would not be until May of 2002 that I finally saw this time traveling comedy. But I’ll get back to this is a bit.
First off, if you don’t remember the film, “Just Visiting” was directed by Jean-Marie Gaubert and it’s a remake of a French film which I’m assuming is better than this flick. “Just Visiting” does have a good cast though, it stars Jean Reno, Christina Applegate, Christian Clavier, Malcolm McDowell, Tara Reid, and Bridgette Wilson.
Jean Reno is Sir Thibault, a French knight who is to marry the beautiful Rosalind (Christina Applegate). His vassal Andre (Christian Clavier) si always with him, trotting happily behind the cart. Some bad stuff happens during a celebration, so Thibault asks a sorcerer (Malcolm McDowell) to send them back in time just enough so they can set things right.
The wizard, miscalculates the spell and sends them to modern-day Chicago, where the knight and serf are terrified by elevated trains, trucks, and by skyscrapers. The time travelers soon run into Thibault’s great-great-great-great-great granddaughter Julia (Christina Applegate again). She’s the sole heir to the family’s old European fortune, founded centuries ago by Thibault, and she is the spitting image of his beloved Rosalind. But her boyfriend, Hunter (Matthew Ross), wants her to sell the family’s European estate, so he can get his hands on the money.
That’s the basis for this movie, but is also where things get tricky. In many ways, “Just Visiting” is a romantic comedy, but Thibault can’t fall in love with Julia, since she is his great-great-great-great-greatgranddaughter. But since the girl looks exactly like the woman he loves, he comes to care for her deeply and tries to protect her from Hunter.
So how does the film deal with the protagonist not being able to fall for the female lead? Simple: the film turns the romantic plotline over to Andre.
Andre ends up falling in love with Angelique (Tara Reid), providing the film with a few laughs along the way. Everything the couple do becomes an adventure, including their first car ride which scares the daylights out Thibault.
But eventually Andre starts liking the city, and when the sorcerer prepares to return them to the Middle Ages, he is against it. This is where he delivers what is arguably the film’s best line: “I want to stay here, where I can eat doughnuts and wear exciting men’s fashions at rock-bottom prices.”
As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t see “Just Visiting” on the big screen. When the film was released, I really didn’t have any interest in seeing it. Then, when it hit dvd, I just skipped it. But in 2002, my friends and I decided to take a trip down to New York City for a few days. We could have driven ourselves there, or taken an Amtrak down. But no, we decided to take the 6 am bus from Boston’s South Station.
As we departed the city, the tv’s on the bus flared on. I was hoping something good would come on, even the Today Show would have been fine. But sadly, I was out of luck. Our lone viewing choice was, you guessed it, “Just Visiting.” Faced with few other entertainment choices on the bus, I decided to watch the entire movie.
At only 88 minutes long, “Just Visiting” is a short movie. I was done watching it by the time our bus drove through Hartford, Connecticut. But for the rest of the ride to New York, I couldn’t stop thinking about the damn movie. Questions and random thoughts kept popping up in my head, like:
- Who greenlit this thing?
- Jean Reno deserves better than this!
- So this is what happened to Malcolm McDowell’s career after he killed Captain kirk.
- Does the butterfly effect matter anymore?
- This is Tara Reid’s best work.
And on and on these silly thoughts went. Had I seen “Just Visiting” in the theater in 2002, things might have been different. At least I only would have paid around $8 to see the movie. But instead, I felt like I paid roughly $65 to see the movie, since that’s what the bus ticket to New York cost me.
Quite frankly, I want my 88 minutes back.