Just Visiting follows Les Visiteurs in most basic respects. The events leading up to the time-travel journey have been changed somewhat, the wizard gets to come along on the journey this time and the location has been moved from France to Chicago (which makes the subplot about losing the ancestral family lands vague). However, the remake follows the overall shape of the original in all the basic areas with Jean Reno encountering his present-day descendant, Christian Clavier finding a modern-day girlfriend and so on. It repeats many of the gags from the original the mediaevals attacking a car thinking it is a dragon, Clavier eating scraps food thrown to him in a restaurant, gags with electric lamps and the mediaevals drinking out of a toilet. Some of the comedy is engaging enough. Christian Clavier gets the most laughs, although Jean Reno seems detached from the production and fails to project the comic certainty he did in the original. Surprisingly not too bad is Christina Applegate who shakes typecasting as the blonde airhead and cult sex symbol in tvs Married ... With Children (1987-97) and gives a 180 degree removed performance as a demure modern girl.
In every other respect however, Just Visiting is a disaster. This is a good example of Hollywood mindlessness having battered a good idea to death. The film is filled with gratuitous CGI effects pop-up dragons, rooms full of flying people, peoples faces transforming into vegetables and trees. When it comes to the time-travel sequences, people do not do anything as ordinary as merely vanish but do so in showy effects-heavy scenes where they turn to stone and crumble, metamorphose into liquid metal or squish up into a human bouncing ball before they vanish. In comparison to the effects-lean and infinitely superior original, the remake seems absurdly overproduced. Indeed, it is one of the most ridiculous examples of the use of CGI effects solely for the sake of it in any film in recent memory.
The story has also been Americanised (clearly the influence of John Hughes who seemed to be becoming an increasing propagandist for Family Values in the 1990s). There is the addition of a greedy and unfaithful boyfriend character for the purpose of allowing Christina Applegate a trite character arc that culminates in her self-assertion. Moreover, the comic riff on feudalism gets democratised with Christian Clavier being given several lectures on the Land of the Free and finally shaking the yolk of servitude and going off to live the American Dream, being seen at the fadeout having made an instant fortune and driving off to Vegas with the girl and a set of designer clothes.
Twenty-three years later Jean Reno, Christian Clavier and Jean-Marie Poire reteamed for a further sequel The Visitors: Bastille Day (2016).