This season the Vanzina brothers have abandoned their gold-plated but aging “Christmas Vacation” formula and replaced it with “Adrift in Time,” a leave-your-brain-at-home divertissement that has immediately become the most popular Italian pic at the Xmas box office. Strictly local fare, pic again banks on the measured vulgarity of comic talents Christian De Sica and Massimo Boldi and has been carefully constructed not to strain the intelligence of anyone over 6.
Story starts at Universal Studios in Hollywood, where Roman prince Ascanio (De Sica) and Milanese film exhibitor Walter (Boldi) find themselves strapped side by side into Prof. Mortimer’s (Dean Jones) virtual-reality time-machine ride. Something goes wrong, and our heroes find themselves in the Stone Age, where beautiful monokini-clad cannibals try to eat them.
Next stop is medieval Florence, ruled by Lorenzo the Magnificent (Marco Messeri), who gets a kick out of Ascanio and Walter’s soccer lessons. Before they can be burned at the stake, they are transported to Casanova’s house in 18th century Venice. And before Walter can enjoy his host’s lady friends, they find themselves in Rome under the Nazi occupation. In the pic’s best episode, set on ’60s Capri, Ascanio unsuccessfully tries to change the future and not marry his wife.
Carlo (director) and Enrico (co-writer) Vanzina dole out time-travel cliches with merry abandon, throwing in dozens of references to films (from “Jurassic Park” to producer Cecchi Gori), soccer and politics for the average Italian to laugh at. Nudity is considerably toned down this time round (no full frontals), though the gags are still lascivious. Boldi and De Sica waltz through their roles with good humor, probably relieved to earn their holiday bonuses without having to do another “Christmas Vacation.”