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Originally published Friday, January 21, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Review

"Green Butchers" won't do much for Danish cuisine

An ultra-black Danish comedy that might have been subtitled "Blame It On the Marinade," Anders Thomas Jensen's "The Green Butchers" is a...

Seattle Times movie critic

An ultra-black Danish comedy that might have been subtitled "Blame It On the Marinade," Anders Thomas Jensen's "The Green Butchers" is a story of meat — the human variety. Butchers Svend (Mads Mikkelsen) and Bjarne (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) are unhappy working for their boss, Holger (Ole Thestrup), in a grim, sweaty shop where, we're told, the pâté tastes like jockstraps. The two soon realize their dream by opening their own shop, featuring Svend's secret-recipe marinade — but, alas, despite a festive first-day celebration complete with a jaunty brass band, no customers show up. What to do?

Well, quicker than you can hum a few bars from "Sweeney Todd," a new kind of meat becomes available at the shop, and Svend and Bjarne have a gruesome problem on their hands. (Not to mention a gruesome bucket of hands, which is a body part rather difficult to sell.) Just to complicate matters, Bjarne's comatose twin brother, Eigil (also played by Kaas) returns to consciousness, and Svend's girlfriend (Bodil Jørgensen) breaks up with him. And the TV show "Missing Danes" starts to speculate about all those people who vanished in the vicinity of the butcher shop.

Movie review

Showtimes and trailer 2.5 stars

"The Green Butchers," with Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Line Kruse, Bodil Jørgensen, Ole Thestrup. Written and directed by Anders Thomas Jensen. 95 minutes. Rated R for language, disturbing images and drug use. In Danish with English subtitles. Varsity, through Thursday.

It all progresses just about how you might guess (particularly if you've seen "Little Shop of Horrors"), and while it's got a refreshingly dry, nasty tone, the film is never quite as funny as it needs to be. But Mikkelsen (recently seen in "Open Hearts," "Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself" and the American flop "King Arthur") contributes a wonderfully detailed character turn. Svend has a bowling-ball dome of a forehead, behind which rises an astonishing puff of hair, and he's wound so tightly he always looks on the verge of tears. In an early scene, he barbecues at home with careful precision, wearing a tie and affectionately prodding the meat. He's a man in love with his work, even when it turns nightmarish; and somehow you know the movie will rescue him.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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