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A Dismal Tribute To A Star Of The Past


The movie title Cantinflas was the professional name of Mexican comic Mario Moreno, whom Charlie Chaplin called "the best and most beloved comedian in the world," and who surely deserves a better tribute than the movie Cantinflas, which will probably leave you wondering what all the fuss could have been about.

For one thing, it suggests that the high point of Cantinflas' career was the release of American Mike Todd's Around the World in Eighty Days in 1956, which did so little for Moreno that he made only one other English-language movie in his life, called Pepe and rated as a "Bomb" in Leonard Maltin's ratings book.

This new movie, Cantinflas, in Spanish with English subtitles, supposedly recreates some of Cantinflas' classic lines and routines, but the line, "I've never worked and hope to retire very soon," and some comic dancing worthy of tank town burlesque, will leave you puzzled as to what his appeal was.

He supposedly led some important union activity, and there was apparently some struggle concerning his family life, his professional life, and his political life, but we aren't show what the conflicts were all about.

What's worse, the movie Cantinflas devotes almost half its footage to Mike Todd's efforts to get Around the World in Eighty Days made, and especially to recruiting the 40 name stars in it. And Todd is represented by (you can hardly say played by) Michael Imperioli, the ambitious young gangster of "The Sopranos," and I have always been an Imperioli fan until now.

Physical casting in Cantinflas is generally terrible, with the most spectacular choice of all being a three-second Yul Brynner supposed lookalike who more resembles Henry Kissinger.

Apologies to Cantinflas-- he has to have deserved better than this.