Men & Chicken (4 stars)

Men & Chicken

Mads Mikkelsen shows us yet another side in Anders Thomas Jensen’s anarchic Danish comedy

Mads Mikkelsen’s 20 year screen career runs an impressive gamut – from drug dealer in Pusher to sadistic Bond baddie in Casino Royale and unjust victim of mob rule in The Hunt. Nothing in his repertoire is quite like the role of Elias in Anders Thomas Jensen’s gleeful black comedy Men & Chicken (Mænd & Høns). Sporting a luxurious moustache, a mop of curly hair, a short temper and an insatiable sexual appetite, Mikkelsen gives an endearingly unhinged performance that matches the tone of the entire film.

You can feel the distant echo of classic stage-to-screen farces like Arsenic and Old Lace and You Can’t Take It with You in this anarchic Danish romp. Gabriel (David Dencik) is a quiet, orderly academic and Elias (Mikkelsen) is his unruly brother. When their father dies, he leaves a video message revealing that he is not their biological father and that they are only half-brothers. Their real father is a 99-year-old scientist who resides on a remote island to the south of Denmark. The duo set off on a road trip, discovering an old dark house, a host of family secrets and three other half-brothers with a very striking family resemblance.

Much of the film’s madcap humour arises from the tensions between the siblings, who tend to express themselves with violence rather than words. Heads are repeatedly bashed in a manner that would make the Three Stooges proud – kitchen implements and stuffed animals are often the weapons of choice.

The joy of Men & Chicken is the way the absurdist comedy on the surface eventually gives way to the philosophical arguments that lie beneath. When the film reveals all its secrets, the result is a poignant ode to the sanctity of human life, no matter how compromised the gene pool may be.

Selected release from Fri 15 Jul.

Men & Chicken

  • 4 stars
  • 2015
  • Denmark / Germany
  • 1h 44min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Anders Thomas Jensen
  • Cast: David Dencik, Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas
  • UK release: 15 July 2016

Elias (Mikkelsen) is the unruly brother of quiet academic Gabriel (Dencik); after their father dies they discover they are only half-brothers, and go on a road trip. Gleeful, absurdist, almost Three Stooges-ish comedy with Mikkelsen cast wonderfully against type as the endearingly unhinged Elias, which unfolds into a…