Review: ‘Maximum Penalty’

Broad Colombian farce about soccer mania's infantalizing effect on the male of the species coasts on familiar gender-split cliches and predictable comic set pieces. Helmer Jorge Echeverri has no problem establishing the believability of his one-dimensional macho characters, dim bulbs all -- but drumming up interest in their bumbling travails is another story.

Broad Colombian farce about soccer mania’s infantalizing effect on the male of the species coasts on familiar gender-split cliches and predictable comic set pieces. Helmer Jorge Echeverri has no problem establishing the believability of his one-dimensional macho characters, dim bulbs all — but drumming up interest in their bumbling travails is another story. Brisk pacing and satiric edge sustain pic’s one-note refrain sufficiently to resonate with soccer-obsessed Latin auds, though, and “Penalty” could score in Hispanic and sports-themed cable venues.

A slacker civil servant, protag barely shows up for his job or his marriage, his only passion or sense of identity linked to Colombia’s lackluster soccer team. Pic revolves around his attempts to get to a match on which he’s wagered his life savings, twice, and from which, relatives, sudden death, bosses and the fates conspire to keep him. Shocking even his fellow-addicted “dumb” brother by the single-minded fervor of his drive, he rides roughshod over dead uncles and fragile grandmothers. In spite of losing money, home, wife and livelihood, he retains what’s essential: his ticket to the next home game.

Maximum Penalty

Colombia

Production

A Dago Garcia Producciones Ltda./Canal Caracol TV production. Produced by Dago Garcia. Executive producer, Marcela Manrique. Directed by Jorge Echeverri. Screenplay, Luis Felipe Salamanca, Garcia.

Crew

Camera (color), Juan Carlos Vasquez; music, Ignacio Rodriguez. Reviewed at La Cinema Fe, New York, Feb. 12, 2003. Spanish dialogue. Running time: 82 MIN.

With

Enrique Carriazo, Robinson Diaz, Sandra Reyes.
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