Your trusty global companion for spiritual, sensual, and literary journeys with author Lyn Fuchs
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Cantinflas Can't Even Entertain Us
Cantinflas is one of those English and Spanish films that Latinos in The United States are supposed to make their kids watch so they can appreciate their cultural roots. Yet, culture worth celebrating and preserving doesn't have to be forcefed. This movie is as barely Latino as it is proudly Latino - like Eva Longoria. The director apparently wanted to use every possible device to imply that Mexican comedian Cantinflas was the funniest guy ever, except one: showing Cantinflas actually being funny.
Instead, the movie beats viewers over the head with two very silly propositions. 1) Cantinflas was a truly great Latino, because he stood up to the gringos, saved the gringos, and got the endorsement of the gringos. 2) Cantinflas was a truly great Latino, because he was able to marry the palest whitest woman you've ever seen. (The fact that she is uglier than a monkey's butt is irrelevant to her function as a status symbol.)
For gringos living in Latin America, this most warped reasoning is somewhat familiar. Despite proffering some of the world's most satisfying food, music, women and life perspectives, Latin America often suffers from a cultural inferiority complex as unexplainable as the superior attitude of certain unrefined ignorant American goobers. Nevertheless, me thinks the movie doth protest too much. Perhaps it needs to do so, because a rigid Spanish actor (Oscar Jaenada) with little of the physical suppleness and silliness of Cantinflas is cast in the lead role. Apparently, we needed to import a high-class foreign actor to help prove that Mexican actors are just as great as high-class foreign actors. I never doubted the greatness of Mexican cinema until seeing this lame defense of it. Of course, this year's Academy Awards may inform us "the time has come for a Latino film to win Best Picture." If so, we can all pretend this was a good movie.