Buoyed by heavy advertising and an evergreen franchise guaranteeing laughs, pacing and maximum political incorrectness, Italy's runaway holiday hit "Christmas in Miami" has soundly whipped "King Kong" and "The Chronicles of Narnia," bringing in $13 million in its opening two weeks.

Buoyed by heavy advertising and an evergreen franchise guaranteeing laughs, pacing and maximum political incorrectness, Italy’s runaway holiday hit “Christmas in Miami” has soundly whipped “King Kong” and “The Chronicles of Narnia,” bringing in $13 million in its opening two weeks. Over the years, Filmauro’s “Christmas in” series has made the rounds from Cortina to Egypt; here comics Massimo Boldi and Christian De Sica move to a frothy Miami for a swinging holiday surrounded by hot beauties of all ages and descriptions. This spicy plate of spaghetti has no pretenses to entertain beyond Italian borders, nor does it need to.

Beyond the box office jackpot, additional income must have poured in from product placement, which is so upfront it feels like another gag. Protags hold up credit cards so the camera can read them, swig famous soft drinks, get from Italy to Florida on a German airline and talk via popular cell phone provider with cheerful satisfaction. It is an interesting reverse tribute to the quality of the film that such blatant devices feel perfectly in context.

Neri Parenti once more takes the series’ helm with confident aplomb, backed up by Fausto Brizzi and Marco Martani’s leeringly good-humored script, which is more amusing than past editions. Two couples break up just before Christmas. Ranuccio’s (Boldi) wife leaves him for another woman and Giorgio’s (De Sica) for a mystery man. In despair, the fellows flee to Miami to forget their sorrows.

While Ranuccio rents a pink Cadillac and paints the town, the more sophisticated Giorgio finds himself having to ward off the attacks of under-age Stella (Vanessa Hessler), a nympho Lolita who happens to be the daughter of his best friend, Mario (Massimo Ghini).

With the stars now well into their 50s, youth interest is added via a trio of horny young friends who see Miami as the land of sexual opportunity. Unfortunately for them, Ranuccio insists on joining his son Paolo (Francesco Mandelli) and ruins every opportunity they get with the local girls. The high point, so to speak, comes when, to hide his son from an unexpected visit from his Italian g.f., Ranuccio leaps on the boy in bed, not realizing a girl with braces is satisfying him under the sheets.

Uncowed by the charges of vulgarity that have dogged the series, the scripters outdo themselves on the far side of sexual improbability. In one throwaway gag, Ranuccio receives oral sex from a Venus fly-trap. In another, Giorgio and Ranuccio stumble into the home of a cannibalistic serial killer and accidentally consume his evening meal of human testicles, thinking they’re meatballs.

Even the Americans speak perfect Italian here, but such improbable details are irrelevant to the fun. In a colossal, if amusingly transparent, homage to male fantasy, every woman who steps onscreen is ready and available for anything. Thus a knockout 15-year-old can instantly fall for sun-baked 50-something De Sica, and a woman weight lifter (Sofola Fatu) can flip out over Boldi’s flabby white bod, rather the way Shakespeare’s Titania got starry-eyed over Bottom.

The happy-go-lucky tandem Boldi and De Sica are relaxed and in top form, turning over their gags with effortless skill and a range from bedroom farce to slapstick. As Giorgio’s best friend and slimeball betrayer, the suave Ghini holds his own in a hilarious hotel room showdown with De Sica. Other thesps are serviceable figurines, with Raffaella Berge getting a few punches in as Boldi’s roaming wife.

Tech work is bright and lively, with editor Luca Montanari timing the gags like clockwork.

Christmas in Miami



A Filmauro production and release. Produced by Aurelio De Laurentiis. Executive producer, Maurizio Amati. Line producer, Luigi De Laurentiis. Directed by Neri Parenti. Screenplay by Parenti, Fausto Brizzi, Marco Martani.


Camera (color), Tani Canevari; editor, Luca Montanari; production designer, Gerry Del Monico, Maurizio Marchitelli; costume designers, Nicoletta Ercole, Nadia Vitali; sound (Dolby Digital), Mark Webber. Reviewed at Warner Bros. Moderno Cinema, Dec. 25, 2005. Running time: 95 MINS.


Ranuccio - Massimo Boldi Giorgio Christian De Sica Mario -Massimo Ghini Stella Vanessa Hessler Paolo - Francesco Mandelli
With: Giuseppe Sanfelice, Paolo Ruffini, Raffaella Berge, Caterina Vertova, Sofola Fatu.
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