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Film / Micmacs

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Micmacs à tire-larigot (or simply "Micmacs" in English) is a 2009 French film by famed director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, director of The City of Lost Children, Amélie, and A Very Long Engagement.

The film is about Bazil, a poor man whose father is killed by a landmine when he was a kid, and who gets a bullet in his brain during a shootout that happens outside the video store he's working in. The bullet isn't far enough in to kill him, but can't be removed without turning him into a vegetable, so he's released from the hospital with it still in his head, with the threat that it might kill him at any minute. Now homeless, he falls in with a band of scavengers who repair and re-sell junk to make a living. However, one day Bazil spots the logos of the two arms companies that made the mine that killed his father and the bullet that got stuck in his head. And then Bazil, helped out by his new friends, begins to plot revenge...

This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Brick Joke: The fire that ignites when someone claps appears once early in the film, and then twice more during the climax.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Most of the characters have a skill shown off at the beginning that becomes important to the plot later. Of special note is the contortionist, whose ability to fit into a refrigerator (first seen when she scares Bazil) later saves her from being detected.
  • Collector of the Strange: One of the arms makers has a collection of the body parts of famous people, such as Marilyn Monroe's molar and the heart of Louis XIV (I think), and he's trying to get Benito Mussolini's eye.
  • Creepy Child: Assuming she's actually a teenager, Calculette is a bit too interested in Bazil and the contortionist's kissing.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death/Hoist by His Own Petard: The two arms dealers' fate not really, but the Fate Worse than Death of being exposed on You Tube and losing the support of the government is just as bad.
  • Enemy Civil War: Bazil's plan involves getting De Fenouillet and Marconi to fight each other, making them think that whatever he and the gang do is actually a scheme cooked up by one against the other. Eventually the two of them start retaliating against each other in earnest.
  • Engineered Public Confession: The whole point of the "North African Holiday" is to get Marconi and De Fenouillet to do this.
  • Foil: The two arms makers' apartments are very different: One is extremely modern and sterile while the other is ornate and museum-like.
  • Good with Numbers: Calculator's father was a surveyor and her mother was a seamstress. She can take your measurements with a glance, determine the exact length of a chimney by dropping a marble down it, and figure out the percentages of nutritional content in a soup by tasting it.
  • Improvisational Ingenuity: Practically the M.O. of Bazil and his compatriots, making use of their esoteric skillsets, an ingenious series of Rube Goldberg devices and a healthy dose of Xanatos Speed Chess to take on Marconi and De Fenouillet.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: "Focus our gays"/"focus our gaze."
    • "I have something in mind" in French is literally "I have something in my head".
    • Really, pretty much everyone makes some sort of lame joke involving either puns or words that rhyme in French at some point or another over the course of the film.
  • Jerkass: Both of the arms dealers qualify in spades.
  • Lad-ette: The contortionist is irritated when Bazil seems to think she's one.
  • Oh, Crap!: the look on Marconi's face when he figures out the gang tricked him and De Fenouillet into Engineered Public Confessions is priceless.
  • The Old Convict: Slammer, who introduces himself by saying that he's been in prison for 3/4ths of his life. He uses his status as an old-time prisoner to distract some drug dealers long enough for Bazil to steal their heroin.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: We actually do hear Buster's name, but he's referred to as Buster throughout the rest of the film. We never learn the names of Mama Chow, Calculator, or Slammer, and Remington is probably a nickname based on the fact he's always using a Remington typewrighter.
  • Pet the Dog: The younger-looking of the two arms makers cares about his young son.
  • Refuge in Audacity: When he thinks he's been captured by vengeful North Africans, Marconi claims he's actually for terrorism.
  • Revenge: For Bazil, his dad, and everyone else the two arms companies harmed.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: Most of the schemes they devise involve one of these.
  • Running Joke: "It's scavenged gear!"
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Remington provides a variant of this trope, as he speaks entirely in idioms, making what he's trying to say take longer than if he just said it simply.
  • Scary Black Man: de Fenouillet employs one (he even says "Boo!" in his first scene). The African rebels also qualify. Remington is not, although he can impersonate one.
  • Shout-Out: One of the apartments Bazil eavesdrops on by mistake has the couple from Delicatessen playing a cello and musical saw duet.
  • Show Some Leg: A particularly extreme example, when the heroes hire a pimp and hooker to put on a sex show in an empty flat with the curtains open, to distract the security guard across the street.
  • Soft Water: And it's a good thing for Buster, too.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The two arms makers' factories are right next to each other so this is bound to happen.
  • True Companions: The scavengers. Slammer even refers to them as a "family" when talking about them to Bazil.
  • Tsundere: the Elastic Woman is a Western example.
  • Verbal Tic: Remington speaks entirely in idiomatic phrases.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Marconi is reduced to screaming incoherently when the stock price to his company crashes, he's threatened with a 15-year sentence, he loses custody of his son, and allegations of his relationship with the Prime Minister's wife start coming out.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: "Plan B" once Bazil is captured was probably just a variant of the original plan, but it's amazing how fast the scavengers were able to improvise it.