It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
“The Visitors” begins in the 12th century, in swashbuckling style, as a knight saves the king's life and is rewarded with the hand of his daughter. Alas, a magician's potion so addles the knight that he then mistakes the king for a bear and slays him. Having killed the king, he can hardly marry the daughter, and so he pledges that he will never marry; small consolation, but it's the thought that counts.
So opens the most popular film in French history--the film that outgrossed “Jurassic Park” and left Frenchmen helpless with laughter. I didn't find it very funny, but then I didn't find “Black Sheep” or “The Cable Guy” very funny, either, so maybe the problem is with me or, more likely, maybe all three films need to be sealed into capsules and shot into space.
The 12th century stuff is the setup for the story, which mostly takes place in modern France, after the knight, Sir Godefroy (Jean Reno), is catapulted into the future along with his vassal Jacquouille, known in the subtitles as Jacquasse (Christian Clavier). That happens as the result of a miscalculation by a friendly magician, who offers to send Godefroy back in time just far enough to save the king's life, but instead drops him into the 20th century.
Godefroy and Jacquasse handle modern times as best they can. They do war with an automobile, they steal steaks from the grill of a roadside cafe, they eat the plastic wrappers along with the sandwiches, and eventually Godefroy is befriended by the gentle Beatrice (Valerie Lemercier), who looks exactly like the gentle Frenegonde he left behind. When they seek out Godefroy's castle, they find it has been converted into a hotel run by Jacquart (Clavier again), who is the vassal's descendent.