MEN & CHICKEN
(Mænd & Høns)
It is soon into Men & Chicken that Anders Thomas Jensen hits a sense of pitch black humour the rather funny scene with Mads Mikkelsen on a date with a woman in a wheelchair and insisting that he doesnt date psychologists so he can get free therapy before he proceeds to launch into a recount of his recurring dream and fairly much stays there for the rest of the film. This sense of perfectly deadpan black humour is not always one that American audiences easily get, although is common to Scandinavian audiences. The nearest you can point to is the surreal humour of Giorgos Lanthimos in films such as Dogtooth (2009) and The Lobster (2015).
You are not really sure where the film is going I wasnt even certain until well over halfway in whether Men & Chicken was going to be a work I would have to write up here or not. Anders Thomas Jensen keeps amping the blackness of the humour with hysterical regard. There are conversations where the brothers at the sanatorium admit to having sex with chickens Its only practice until we find a girl or the dinnertable argument over which of the plates with animal prints on them tastes better to eat from and who gets to have the dog plate. Some of the funniest scenes come towards the end with the brothers trying to read bedtime Bible stories, ending up in an argument as they insist on interpreting everything literally and have the most sympathy for the sacrificial lamb, or the scene where Mads Mikkelsen sets out to introduce the brothers to some girls and promptly takes them to a geriatric home as though it were a singles bar.
In terms of genre material, the film plays out almost like rambling, black comedy version of H.G. Wells The Island of Dr Moreau (1896). We see some queasy images of animal hybrids chicken with feet and hooves. This all leads up to the big revelation about the brothers paternity although one that never seems to be the big surprise than what Anders Thomas Jensen seems to want to make it (or perhaps it is just that one has watched far too many genre films). At the fadeout, the film settles down to a parody of a sentimental ending with its oddball outsiders coming together in the semblance of a family.