As in early Berlanga films, the touches of black humor, gentle ribbing of reds, fascists and modern socialists, and zany goings-on are all present in “Everyone Off to Jail.” True to form, helmer again drags out a turbulent, non-stop yackfest, constantly changing the roster of oddball characters. But the occasional laugh is soon overtaken by tedium, and it all finally feels very deja vu.
Mostly unfolded in a Valencia prison, plot has an enterprising promoter organizing a day of tribute to erstwhile political prisoners. These, along with the media reps and politicos, have been invited to a gala dinner. Everything goes wrong, as persons with diverse vested interests create continuous droll confusion.
The central character (a throwback to Berlanga’s 1978 “National Shotgun”) is a nervous, fawning Jose Sazatornil, who triesto collect overdue coin from a government official for a toilet installation.
Berlanga’s customary long-sequence shots constantly switch from person to person — transvestites, cooks, politicos, jailbirds — as he bombards the audience with non-stop slangy dialogue and gesticulations.
But what was poignant satire in the 1970s now verges dangerously close to parody of Berlanga’s own earlier work. The intended political satire, now set in modern democratic Spain, is rather passe, and the scatological sequences are silly. Pic has been only moderately successful on its home turf.