Lowdown: Jesus’ three kings let loose in today’s Paris.
The Three Kings (TTK) is a French film from 2001 of which I first heard during its cinematic release. Like all time travel films, the premises have much potential in them: take the bible’s wise men from the east, put them in today’s world, and see what happens. Promises aside, I was worried about the film being too biblically religious; I didn’t want to see a Christmas film pushing its take on the so called Christmas values down my throat.
After watching TTK I can confirm the French moviemakers managed to get the most of the time travel potential while also creating an original angle on the Christmas feeling. In fact, they managed those very well. Most of all, they managed to create a hilarious comedy that made me laugh out loud for significant portions of the film.
TTK follows Jesus’ famous three kings (or rather, three mages) as they show up in our time, shortly before Christmas, to welcome a new baby Jesus. They three show up separately in different parts of the world (including Africa and the Far East), but being wise and all they speak the local languages and through their innocent charm they get along and manage to find themselves in Paris. Very handy, given that this is a French production!
Once in Paris, our three mages encounter all sorts of obstacles on their way to finding baby Jesus. Starting, for example, from no one believing them to be what they are, them not having any modern day currency, their gullibility which opens them to exploitation, and their general lack of familiarity with modern day technology. All this opens up much room for comedy, and indeed the opportunity is very well exploited yet it is not abused. Eventually our mages link up with a young woman from a rich yet dysfunctional family whose boyfriend keeps pumping with drugs and with a young delinquent, setting them on the right path for their quest.
Towards its very end the film falters a bit, as if not knowing how to provide a meaningful conclusion after all the laughing around. Overall, though, I highly recommend it.
Best dramatic scene:
The mages star at a reality show and find themselves confronted by experts who challenge them. The experts’ arguments involve the date of their quest (24 December), a date that was only celebrated as of the 4th century and before which Jesus’ birth was celebrated around April; and the fact the bible never mentions “three kings”, with that concept being invented during the 8th century by an English scholar.
Our mages never really address these points, which is the exact point the film is trying to make: It doesn’t really matter whether the three mages existed or not or whether Jesus existed or not, the point is that we should look at ourselves the way someone completely alien and detached from our culture would and strive to correct all the wrongs that we see.
Best joke: Given their experiences in our world, the mages’ currency of choice is the number of Big Macs and fries it would take to acquire a product or a service.
Overall: Funny, original entertainment. I really enjoyed it and I'm giving it 3.5 out of 5 stars.