Movie Review: MEN & CHICKEN (Denmark/Germany 2015) Top 10 *****

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menandchicken.jpgMEN & CHICKEN (Denmark/Germany 2015) Top 10 *****
Directed by Anders Thomas Jensen

Starring:
David Dencik, Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas
Review by Gilbert Seah

Director Anders Thomas Jensen’s (THE GREEN BUTCHERS) is a very black comedy – none can come blacker, about two different brothers – same father but different mothers. Firstly, it should be noted that writer/director Jensen is an Oscar winner – for his short film in 1999. So, this brilliant piece of filmmaking is no stroke of luck.

Gabriel (David Dencik) is a worn down university professor and Elias (Mads Mikkelsen) is a man whose only concern is women and trivial knowledge. At the film’s opening, Elias is having dinner – apparently a first date with a woman in a wheelchair. The reason he picked her are manyfold. One is that he thinks that girls in wheelchairs are easier. Secondly she is a psychiatrist and that he can get free advice on his dreams. It is a hilarious scene that ends with him jerking off in the toilet. It is there that the story picks up. Gabriel receives a phone call that their father is dead. Things take a turn when the brothers learn through a videotape recorded by their now late father, that he in fact wasn’t their biological father. Gabriel and Elias discover that their biological father lives on the island Ork. They set out to the island and here they meet their real family. And the family – all brothers with hair cleft lips behave like the three stooges, constantly beating each other up and obeying weird rules made up by one of them, Josef (Soren Malling).

They all live in a dirty abandoned sanatorium where animals roam everywhere. The sets are made as as dirty and disgusting as they come. The actors are also dressed as poorly as possible and everyone is plain ugly in the film. All this is pure delight for those who love their humour served up weird and different.

There are too many extremely weird but hilarious segments to mention. One of the best involves the four brothers driving out of the old sanatorium to pick up girls. Where do they go? The old age home. “What happens if we don’t get any?” one asks. Elias replies, “It will be a world record if I don’t get lucky.” But there are slim pickings and they quibble who will get the jig-saw lady with the walker. Another is the dinner table set-up (inspired by the director’s childhood experiences at the dinner table) when the brothers argue on the dog plate (the plate with a picture of a dog on it). The one with the cow plate wants it. Elias volunteers to give him his owl plate to prevent a fight but is told the owl plate is worse than the cow plate. When an argument ensues, Elias switches his owl plate for the cow plate. The situations get weirder and weirder, but director is dead serious on his material, pushing it past boundaries.

Mikkelsen and Dencil and the other actors work wonderfully well – weather fighting or sleeping together. They have worked before with director Jensen.

I first previewed MEN AND CHICKEN last year at the Toronto International Film Festival. Second viewing still proves the film fascinating weird, hilarious and inventive. Not for the faint of heart nor for those who like their humour sane This is insanity at its most heightened. Love it or hate it, MEN AND CHICKEN is the weirdest movie of the year, hands down.

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