Friday, 29 July 2016

REVIEW - MEN & CHICKEN (ANDERS THOMAS JENSEN)


A self-consciously quirky Danish comedy that seems to promise only hammy puerility, Men & Chicken ultimately proves its worth as a feature, if only in comparison to initial expectation. Well-acted and benefitting from punchy dialogue and a fitfully engaging, if predictable, plot, it's a cut above its cinematic kin in aiming for several cuts below and somehow succeeding. Anders Thomas Jensen markets himself here as a childish provocateur, but sells himself as a decent filmmaker, making a thoroughly indecent film. And if you're wholly prepared for the additional strain of subtextual social commentary, you're perhaps not so prepared for the keenness of Jensen's observations, even if he never stretches himself in the complexity of what he intends to say. Men & Chicken stays true to its off-colour comedic tendencies throughout, indeed only adds insult to injury in this regard (in the worst taste yet to largely good effect), and never truly evolves into a work of artistic or philosophical significance; its improvements are made only as the integrity of Jensen's tonal tastelessness becomes more apparent, and as the film settles into its identity as a beautifully ugly work of low art. Its finest attributes are mostly mitigated by the obviousness of its premise, the self-awareness of the execution of that premise, and the limitations of Jensen's straightforward mise-en-scene, but they're never utterly erased. What exists in this film is a modest success on its own terms, and thus a great deal more than it promises to be.