"A Strange World" is the pro debut of Armando Casas, a graduate of the National University's film school, which produced this amusing comedy that takes aim at Mexican commercial TV and the way it creates a false set of social values. Despite a cast of unknowns, both word of mouth and a good publicity campaign could produce decent domestic B.O. Humor is perhaps too local to travel well, however.

“A Strange World” is the pro debut of Armando Casas, a graduate of the National University’s film school, which produced this amusing comedy that takes aim at Mexican commercial TV and the way it creates a false set of social values. Despite a cast of unknowns, both word of mouth and a good publicity campaign could produce decent domestic B.O. Humor is perhaps too local to travel well, however.

Borrowing plot elements from Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” Casas and co-writer Rafael Tonatiuh tell the story of a popular TV comedian dubbed Tolin (Emilio Guerrero), who is kidnapped by a band of robbers. One robber, Emilio (Victor Hugo Arana), hopes Tolin will help him get into showbiz if they release him.

Of course, Tolin doesn’t make good on his promise. In search of another way to break into the business, Emilio gets close to clueless bimbo Dianita (Ana Serradilla), who works in the star’s TV show. Third act loses punch as the premise is stretched way beyond plausibility as Tolin allows the hoods a spot on his show.

At its best, “A Strange World” recreates with deadpan accuracy the most annoying traits of Mexican TV: the tired, sexist jokes; the overworked catchphrases; the shameless sidekicks; and the condescending tone that passes for warmth.

Stage actor Guerrero does a convincing job incarnating a corrupt TV funny man (the character is evidently a wicked take on murdered comedian Paco Stanley).

On the tech side, “A Strange World” has a conventional approach with few flourishes. Lensing by Alejandro Cantu strives for a flat effect, perhaps in an imitation of TV imagery.

A Strange World

Mexico

Production

An Imcine, Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematograficos, Fondo para la Produccion Cinematografica de Calidad production. Produced by Mitl Valdez. Executive producer, Walter Navas. Directed by Armando Casas. Screenplay, Rafael Tonatiuh, Armando Casas.

Crew

Camera (color) Alejandro Cantu; editors, Manuel Rodriguez, Mario Sandoval; music, Jose Navarro; art director, Lorenza Manrique; sound (Dolby Stereo) Gustavo Patino; sound design, Aurora Ojeda. Reviewed at Guadalajara Film Festival, Mexico, March 11, 2001. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Victor Hugo Arana, Emilio Guerrero, Ana Serradilla, Jorge Sepulveda, Juan Carlos Vives, Anilu Pardo, Jorge Zarate, Tomihuatzi Xelhuantzi, Raul Adalid.
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