A few years back on my January trip to Rome I saw Giulio Manfredonia’s Qualunquemente with Antonio Albanese and I was stunned, horrified, offended, and sure that Italians would feel the same. But I was wrong.
It made a lot of money at the box office, got a standing ovation at the Berlin Film Festival and all of the Italians I talked to said they thought it was hilarious. So let me get this straight; in Qualunquemente, when Cetto La Qualunque, played by Albanese won an election with a slogan that I am too embarrassed to translate on this blog and stereotyped Calabrians as ignorant Mafiosi – that was hilarious?
Two years later and two weeks ago on my January trip to Rome I decided I had to see the sequel, Tutto Tutto Niente Niente and I resolved to march into that theater with an open mind. Don’t get me wrong; the movie is gross. It’s just as stunningly and horrifyingly offensive as Qualunquemente but I found myself laughing at Cetto La Qualunque, Rodolfo Favaretto and Frengo Stoppato played by Antonio Albanese, Antonio Albanese and Antonio Albanese. All three, jailed for different reasons are suddenly and unexpectedly set free to help out in Parliament (Don’t ask.) and are equally over the top.
Yes, I laughed at Cetto’s reaction to the psychiatrist’s diagnosis that he was gay. I laughed at Frengo’s mother (Lunetta Savino) working to beatify her pothead son. I tried to be a good sport and watch the racism and sexism with an ironic eye. I reminded myself how much Americans condemn stereotypes with one breath and then in the next laughs itself silly over tv shows like ‘The Jersey Shore’. Lighten up, Cheri! Don’t be a wet blanket! People love this stuff.
But this time they didn’t. Tutto Tutto Niente Niente is a big flop and got panned by critics so now I’m confused. C’mon, Italians, help me out here. You loved Qualunquemente but hated Tutto Tutto Niente Niente? They seemed about the same to me.
I don’t think I’ll ever understand Italian comedies.