Bazil (Dany Boon) has good reason for being opposed to weapons manufacturers. For one thing, a street incident has left him with a bullet in his head. For another, a land mine killed his father.
So when Bazil meets a scrappy band of scavengers, he enlists them in a campaign targeting the arms merchants who twice upended his life. Among his new collaborators are Slammer (Jean-Pierre Marielle), so named because he's spent considerable time behind bars; Mama Chow (Yolande Moreau), a motherly cook; and Elastic Girl (Julie Ferrier), whose skills as a contortionist prove to be invaluable in executing Bazil's strategy.
What ensues is a tale that owes as much to the slapstick legacy of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as it does to the "Mission: Impossible" franchise.
"Micmacs" is the latest film from French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who is best known for "Amelie" and "A Very Long Engagement." Working from a screenplay that he wrote with Guillaume Laurant, Jeunet delivers his trademark blend of whimsy and visual flair. But there's something missing.
The problem may be that "Micmacs" has more in common with the energetic but eccentric films that Jeunet co-directed with Marc Caro — "Delicatessen" and "The City of Lost Children" — than with "Amelie" or "Long Engagement," which both owed at least part of their accessibility to the engaging presence of Audrey Tautou.
While the adventures of Bazil and his pals are inventive, they're not particularly emotionally involving, resulting in a film that's much easier to respect than it is to enjoy.
It doesn't help that Boon lacks Tautou's charisma.
Jeunet — whose influence can be seen in everything from the short-lived TV series "Pushing Daisies" to the Oscar-winning film "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" — remains one of the world's most imaginative directors. But "Micmacs" is a misfire.