The “men” in Men & Chicken are two brothers, Elias (Mads Mikkelsen) and Gabriel (David Dencik) who learn from a VHS recording their deceased father left for them that they were adopted from a noted geneticist. Setting out to a small (fictional) isle off the coast of Denmark, the two find his residence to be a sanitarium nearly in ruins, but still inhabited by three brothers they had never met – each rather loony and odd-looking – and hundreds of strange chickens. Curiously, however, Elias and Gabriel are not able to meet their father because he is locked up with an infection, thus they begin to dig for more clues in the mansion.
And, get this, it’s even more bonkers than it sounds. Director Anders Thomas Jensen really hones in the quirkiness (with a dash of surrealism and gothic horror) for what turns out to be a rather absurdist comedy about the human condition. If Terry Gilliam made a Three Stooges film, Men & Chicken wouldn’t be far off. While its grotesque nature may be fascinating, it’s rarely ever that funny.
The humor is rather juvenile which, considering the nature of the narrative, works in theory. In practice, though, it becomes repetitive and empty. From the get-go, most of the humor comes from seeing Mads Mikkelsen play so far off type as a screwball, a novelty which rarely wears thin. He does a pretty admirable job to boot. Here’s hoping he finds himself in another comedic role or two.
Men & Chicken is now playing in select theaters.