Fourth and latest in the "Christmas Vacation" series shows commercial Italian comedy at its nadir: sexist, homophobic, provincial and stale. Pic has become, however, the season's second-highest-grossing Christmas hit, climbing to $ 15 million afterfour weeks. Foxy movie owes its local success to ritzy, dream-vacation U.S. locations, strongly sketched characters that mass auds can identify with and two well-worn stars performing in familiar roles. Mental involvement required of viewers is somewhat less than for a TV gameshow.

Fourth and latest in the “Christmas Vacation” series shows commercial Italian comedy at its nadir: sexist, homophobic, provincial and stale. Pic has become, however, the season’s second-highest-grossing Christmas hit, climbing to $ 15 million afterfour weeks. Foxy movie owes its local success to ritzy, dream-vacation U.S. locations, strongly sketched characters that mass auds can identify with and two well-worn stars performing in familiar roles. Mental involvement required of viewers is somewhat less than for a TV gameshow.

Gambling addict Remo Proietti (Christian De Sica) wings it to Aspen,Colo., trailing after his angry American wife, Kelly (Elizabeth Nottoli). On the same plane is Lorenzo (Massimo Boldi), who is taking his 14-year-old daughter, Marta (Cristiana Capotondi), on vacation.

Lorenzo becomes hysterical when he realizes Marta insisted on going to Aspen to meet (and, he fears, seduce) teen idol Luke Perry (who — dubbed into Italian — wryly plays himself as a modest, chivalrous superstar). This section, squarely aimed at teen viewers, is redeemed by the delightful film debut of Capotondi, whose fresh naturalness is sure to be exploited in future pics.

To pay his gambling debts with the swinish Paolone (Paolo Bonacelli), Remo is forced to sign an “indecent proposal” (his own words) permitting Paolone to perform a number of natural and unnatural acts on his wife, some requiring the use of a cucumber. A stranger to subtle innuendoes, pic delights in pushing nudity (male and female) to gratuitous extremes.

With the exception of Marta, all characters do a good amount of disrobed acting, particularly a crazy American girl, Jane (Claire Ferris), who attaches herself to Lorenzo. There is female mud wrestling, a striptease, a sauna scene, a gay bar scene, driving in the nude and an encounter between Remo and Lorenzo in the shower in which a homosexual encounter is explicitly pantomimed.

Conceived by writer-directors Carlo and Enrico Vanzina, the series is now being serviceably helmed by Neri Parenti, whose name was long attached to the more stimulating “Fantozzi” comedies about a bumbling public servant (played by Paolo Villaggio). Tech work is as good as it needs to be, with special attention given to the enticing ski slopes of Aspen. Music is a string of disco and pop hits.

Christmas Vacation '95

(ITALIAN)

Production

A Filmauro production and release. Produced by Aurelio De Laurentiis. Executive producer, Maurizio Amati. Directed, written by Neri Parenti. Screenplay, Parenti, based on an idea by Enrico and Carlo Vanzina.

Crew

Camera (color, Cinecitta), Gian Lorenzo Battaglia; editor, Sergio Montanari; music, Manuel De Sica; art direction, Maria Stilde Ambruzzi; sound, Fulgenzio Ceccon; line producer, Marcello Crescenzi. Reviewed at Eden Cinema, Rome, Dec. 29, 1995. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Remo ... Christian De Sica Lorenzo ... Massimo Boldi Luke Perry ... Himself Marta ... Cristiana Capotondi Kelly/Michelle ... Elizabeth Nottoli Jane ... Claire Ferris Paolone ... Paolo Bonacelli
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