Director: Matt Piedmont
Starring: Will Ferrell, Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Genesis Rodrigeuz
Written by: Andrew Steele
Running Time: 84 mins
Release date: 8th June 2012
(Spanish with English subtitles)
You have to hand it to Will Ferrell. He doesn’t believe in just creating the same kind of comedy over and over again. It would be very easy for him to recreate his tornado of a triumph, Anchorman. Instead he has poked fun at NASCAR, the buddy cop movies and now Mexican low budget melodrama. The difference here is that the whole film is played out in Spanish with English subtitles. Brave and it almost works.
Armondo is a ranchero that his father considers an idiot while his much smarter brother is making it big in the world. When Raul returns home with the beautiful Sonia in toe, it becomes apparent to Armondo that his brother has made his money as a drug dealer and his return is only going to cause problems with the king pin dealer of the area, The Onza. Add to that, Armondo is falling in love with his brothers new bride-to-be, who happens to be Onza’s niece.
The team behind the successful Funny or Die website are obviously unafraid to fail when it comes to trying new things and here we have a comedy that is both clever and subtle but in some cases, a little too subtle. The cheap feel to the production, with backcloths for scenery, obvious fake horses, ropey editing and bad continuity are sometimes so subtle you actually miss the gag and so the laughs come moments after they have been delivered. A perfect example is when Raul announces his engagement and he is handed a drink, which keeps changing, from the hand of a hairy armed man when it is supposed to a woman. Blink and you will miss it.
Other times, the gags fall flat on their face. A scene where Ferrell and his companions are laughing at a not particularly funny one-liner goes on too long, while the models of cars are entirely missed due to having to read the subtitles. This is where one of the major problems lie. You spend most of your time reading that you miss the obvious. When the jokes work, they work brilliantly. There’s a hilarious scene in which Armondo is trying to get Sonia on a horse that the editing is so bad, his hands end up all over the place and there’s one of the funniest sex scenes to be filmed, with an unhealthy longing on naked behinds.
Hiring two of Mexico’s more attractive and successful actors seems to be a real coup. Diego Luna, as Raul, has some decent moments but never enough to make a real impact, while Gael Garcia Bernal as Onza, the villain, just doesn’t go far enough with his character and could have been a hilarious pantomime-like baddie. Genesis Rodrigeuz fairs much better as Sonia, sharing some well played comic scenes with Ferrell and is stunning to boot, so that helps her cause. Then there’s Ferrell. Speaking perfect Spanish throughout (he learnt his lines phonetically) he carries the film in his usual likeable way. This may not be his strongest character but it is definitely his bravest.
With nods towards Sergio Leone, Sam Peckenpah and even Grindhouse, as well as a credit sequence that mixes Bond with A Fistful of Dollars, (and Christina Aguilera singing the theme tune), writer Andrew Steele and director Matt Piedmont have made a brave attempt to give the audience something slightly different than a routine comedy. It just needed to be braver and maybe a little funnier to boot.