Ivano/Priest … Carlo Verdone
Jessica … Claudia Gerini
Valeriana … Cinzia Mascoli
Fosca … Veronica Pivetti
Carlo Verdone returns to his comedic roots, resurrecting characters that made him popular 15 years ago, in “Honeymoon Trips,” an amusing but uneven take on modern relationships tracing the post-nuptial misgivings of three sets of newlyweds. A major hitmaker in Italy, Verdone should see his latest among the top-grossing domestic productions of the holidays. But the actor-director’s spirited comedies rarely have traveled well, and this new entry promises to be no exception.
The trio of parallel stories is structured like Verdone’s 1979 debut, “Un Sacco bello.” The director plays all three grooms, each of them minor variations on characters from his sophomore feature, “Bianco rosso e verdone,” made in 1981 . Since then, however, Verdone has moved on to far more complex comedies, and this unchallenging material gives the impression of a commercially safe stopgap project in the absence of a better idea.
Pic chronicles three problem-plagued honeymoons. The couples are maddeningly punctilious doctor Raniero and nerve-racked Fosca (Veronica Pivetti), who suffers in silence, having married him out of a sense of obligation; slick but ignorant vulgarian Ivano and his gum-chewing wife, Jessica (Claudia Gerini); and naive milquetoast Giovannino and his perennially disappointed bride, Valeriana (Cinzia Mascoli). Verdone doubles as a verbose cleric to the latter couple, intent on stretching their nuptials to marathon length.
The comedy’s best strand is the Ivano-Jessica liaison, tracking the dimwitted pair’s tireless quest to add bizarre innovations to their sex life. The Raniero-Fosca seg starts with a post-wedding pilgrimage to the tomb of Raniero’s first wife, with Fosca’s merits endlessly weighed against those of her predecessor. The third couple’s honeymoon is sabotaged when the nurse who tends to Giovannino’s aged father abruptly quits and Valeriana’s sister attempts suicide.
Verdone appears less magnanimous with his co-stars than in the past, focusing attention on his own appealing comic gifts. However, as Jessica, Gerini still shines as the pic’s prime revelation, her lazy sassiness breathing life into her scenes even as the narrative train runs low on steam.
Despite her less showy, more real-istic role, Mascoli also registers warmly as Valeriana. Pivetti, an experienced dubbing actress in her first major turn in front of the cameras, makes a pallid impression as Fosca.
As always with Verdone, the film is technically tidy but rather straightforward. Cutting between the three stories could have been more interestingly structured, and the excessive running time tightened.