Operating on the erroneous assumption that a familiar concept that's usually funny for a few moments onscreen will be all the funnier stretched out to feature length, "The Naked Man" soon proves otherwise. So-so comedy about the havoc caused by a you-know-what running around is passable for Spanish-speaking theatrical and tube slots.

Operating on the erroneous assumption that a familiar concept that’s usually funny for a few moments onscreen will be all the funnier stretched out to feature length, “The Naked Man” soon proves otherwise. So-so comedy about the havoc caused by a you-know-what haplessly running around is a passable time filler for Spanish-speaking theatrical and tube slots.

Professor Silvio Proenca (Claudio Marzo) is an expert in the field of Brazilian folk music, and must attend a conference in Sao Paolo to celebrate the publication of his new book. His wife, however, decides at the last minute not to accompany him; this proves troubling when various work mates seem to have already “heard” she’s staying behind in Rio. At the airport, Proenca runs into a musician friend and Marialva, the artist’s sexy young manager. When foul weather cancels all flights, they retire to Marialva’s apartment. Much wine and song later, the academic wakes up in her bed — “Now I know what you’re a professor of!” she smirks appreciatively.

Moments later, however, this idyll is history: Reaching outside the lady’s doorway in the buff to grab a bread delivery, Proenca is accidentally stuck in the hallway. Worse, other apartment dwellers react hysterically to his stark-raving appearance, chasing him into the temporary safety of a moving van — one bound for Ipanema. Subsequent events spiral so that this alleged “sex maniac” is being hotly pursued by gawkers, a SWAT team, police dogs and would-be rescuer Marialva. He also attracts TV reporters and commentators, who turn the Naked Man into a sudden national obsession.

A not-so-surprising twist at the end has Proenca finally arriving safe at home — only to find wife and co-worker busy being naked themselves. Latter personage is thrown out onto the street to become the new Naked Man.

Veteran Brazilian director Hugo Carvana and scenarist Fernando Sabino stretch out this gimmick with routine good cheer but not much inspiration. Lead actor Marzo, as well, is game but just doesn’t have the comic chops to lend this long slapstick “streak” any real bite or personality. (He is, for the record, seen only from behind or waist up from the front.) Tech aspects are OK.

The Naked Man

Brazilian

Production

A Rio Film/Mac Communicacoes production. Produced by Martha Alenca. Directed by Hugo Carvana. Screenplay, Fernando Sabino.

Crew

Camera (color), Nonato Estrela; editor, Diana Vasconcelos; music, David Tygel. Reviewed at World Film Festival, Montreal (Cinema of Latin America), Aug. 28, 1997. Running time: 76 MIN.

With

Claudio Marzo, Lucia Verisimo, Daniel Dantas, Isabel Fillardis, Maria Zilda Bethlem, Milton Goncalves, David Pinheim, Anselmo Vasconcelos, Joel Barcelos, Miele, Paria Pompeu.
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