Men & Chicken (Mænd & Høns) (5/10)

Men & Chicken

You don't choose your own family


Men & Chicken is a black comedy about two outcast brothers, who by getting to know their unknown family also discover a horrible truth about themselves and their relatives.

Title Men & Chicken
Director Anders Thomas Jensen
Director of Photography Sebastian Blenkov
Runtime 1 h 44 min
Release Date 5 February 2015
Tagline You don't choose your own family
IMDb Id tt3877674

A dark Danish comedy by director Anders Thomas Jensen, Men & Chicken starts out about two brothers, Elias (Mads Mikkelsen) and Gabriel (David Dencik), with some obvious behavioural and social challenges, whose father has just passed away. He has left them a videotape, explaining that he is not their biological father, and that they have two different mothers to boot. Gabriel immediately embraces their newly identified half-brother status, and starts to search for their father. When he finds out where he lives, he sets off to the little isolated Danish island of Ork, reluctantly bringing Elias along.

Once arrived there, they find three more (half?) brothers living in a dilapidated mansion amongst a plethora of animals. These brothers not only have the same cleft lip as Elias and Grabiel, but also just like them each seem to have their own unique set of behavioural challenges. As they spend more time together, they eventually find out the shocking genius of their shared father…

The original title Mænd & Høns literally translated would be Men & Hens rather than Men & Chicken; the literal translation has a potential double (or even triple) meaning that befits the movie, the second one being more direct but loses the subtleties and layers of the humour in the film. And I wonder if this is the whole problem I had with the movie: how much got lost in translation for a non-native speaker?

The script starts out weird and absurd, but it is actually quite clever with a well-made narrative arc, where all the weirdness neatly falls into place in the end. The acting is good, and of course most non-Danish people will especially know Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal, Jagten, or as the Bond villain Le Chiffre amongst many others) who is cast against type here allowing him to show great range.

There are quite a few funny bits – some absurd, some slapsticky, some english-humour-like dry – actually I suspect quite a more than I picked up as I found it a bit hard to really get the feel which I am sure the movie has for a native speaker. It is absurd, clever, well-scripted, well-acted, yet I can’t recommend it as a good watch unless you are better at Danish than me.


Men & Chicken (Mænd & Høns) (5/10)
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