Men And Chicken film review: Mads makes merry

Mads Mikkelsen stars in knockabout comedy Men And Chicken

Mænd og høns (Anders Thomas Jensen, DK, 2015)

After watching Mads Mikkelsen play the incredibly suave cannibal Hannibal Lecter, seeing him nail uncomfortable physical comedy in Anders Thomas Jensen’s hilarious comedy is a brilliant surprise.

Elias (Mikkelsen) and his brother Gabriel (David Dencik) are shocked when a video from their late father reveals that they’re not his sons. They travel to a remote island to track down their real dad, only to find a dilapidated country house with three men who are clearly their stepbrothers (Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Søren Malling, Nicolas Bro). After a series of violent confrontations, the boys start to bond, but why isn’t Gabriel allowed to see the old man? What’s with all the farm animals? And what is in the basement?

Mikkelsen and Dencik make for an unexpectedly hilarious leading pair; the former constantly yearning for sex and approval, and the latter desperate to find evidence that they’re not actually related. The stepbrothers are great too, with Malling impressing as the rage-filled eldest brother who was fired from the local primary school for beating an infant with a stuffed fox.

The film doesn’t attempt to sugarcoat its characters’ weird, compulsive and obscene behaviour, but it’s also oddly good-natured. The innocence with which Gregor (Kaas) explains the brothers’ bestiality  is hysterical, as is the way in which the compulsively masturbating Mikkelsen side-eyes the livestock for the rest of the film. They’re a bit like the family from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, only without the murder and cannibalism.

The slapstick violence is well done, with fights erupting over all things from cheese theft to the ranking of animal dinner plates; they are fantastically odd.

Men & Chicken is strange and often dark, but it’s weirdly sweet, too, not to mention very funny. If you like The League Of Gentlemen then you’re going to want to catch this.