Sci-fi spoof, reportedly the highest-budgeted Turkish pic ever made, cannily contrasts its grandiose extraterrestrial trappings with its low-rent leading man — a used carpet salesman (stand-up comedian/scripter Cem Yilmaz). Gags, replete with references to “Star Wars,” “The Fifth Element” and “The Matrix,” are no great shakes in themselves, but Yilmaz manifests an irresistible flair with throwaway lines and his mock-heroic con-man chutzpah keeps pic lively and amusing. A huge hit in its homeland and wide-ranging Euro curio, “G.O.R.A.” could click as a change of pace at Stateside sci-fi venues.
When Arif (Yilmaz) is not hustling carpets or scamming tourists, he fakes UFO photos, stopping by the roadside to pose an old peasant under a hand-held flying saucer.
Then, in a narrative switcheroo made familiar by the Tim Allen/Sigourney Weaver-starrer “Galaxy Quest,” sci-fi real life imitates sci-fi artifice.
Arif is abducted by a real UFO and transported to the planet G.O.R.A., but his consummate con-man’s ability to think on his feet and brazen his way through any imbroglio, plus his aficionado’s knowledge of Hollywood space odysseys, allow him to save the alien planet, win the ruler’s bodacious daughter, Princess Ceku (Ozge Ozberk), and confound the evil, psychopathic military honcho Logar (Yilmaz, a la Mike Myers, also essaying the overwrought villain role).
Humor, always situational, rarely bothers with political correctness. Thus a midget in a red sweat suit, sporting LeVar Burton-type optical wraparounds, keeps popping up to warn of imminent disaster only to be waved away impatiently by a petulant Logar.
The 216 Robot (Ozan Guven), a gay android who downloads the latest in intergalactic dance steps, explicitly embodies an over-the-top sexual identity that George Lucas’ fey C-3 PO merely hinted at. The robot adds some campy color as the best friend of Princess Ceku and self-appointed sidekick to our hero.
Yilmaz’s persona drives most of pic’s humor, but if helmer Omer Faruk Sorak’s f/x were cheesy or perfunctory, Arif’s pencil-mustachioed glibness would have had nothing to play off.
Yilmaz loves to pull the rugs out from under Hollywood imperialism. The state-of-the-art spaceship at pic’s opening is manned by a crew speaking English — until someone points out the anomaly, at which point the dialogue switches to Turkish. A tongue-in-cheek corollary, suggesting that “anything is possible in a parallel universe,” finds American dollars useless on G.O.R.A. while Turkish currency is highly prized.
The impressive sets and f/x also set up pic’s funniest bit, a flashback to Logar’s father’s first encounter with Earth.
Tech credits are accomplished.