Review: ‘Colossal Sensation! Dodo & Naphthalene’

Expanding on the political humor of his 1998 comedy "May Day Mayhem," veteran farceur Robert Koltai's new romp, "Colossal Sensation!," sets the tumultuous lives of twin circus clowns against watershed moments in Hungarian history. Primarily one for the locals -- and Koltai is an established presence in the Magyar industry -- pic's genial way with a gag and Chaplinesque sentimental streak could also earn it fest berths and will stand work in good stead on ancillary streams.

Expanding on the political humor of his 1998 comedy “May Day Mayhem,” veteran farceur Robert Koltai’s new romp, “Colossal Sensation!,” sets the tumultuous lives of twin circus clowns against watershed moments in Hungarian history. Primarily one for the locals — and Koltai is an established presence in the Magyar industry — pic’s genial way with a gag and Chaplinesque sentimental streak could also earn it fest berths and will stand work in good stead on ancillary streams.

Born to a traveling circus clown somewhere in the hinterlands, Naphthalene (Koltai) and Dodo (Sandor Gaspar, who also co-starred in “Mayhem”) fall afoul of a Russian comrade when a gag goes awry. Dodo does time for this, while Naphthalene, now a rural-theater prop man, involuntarily becomes an instigator in the 1956 revolution. With the gaminesque Pipiter (Orsolya Toth) in tow, he sets out for Budapest to spring his brother. Koltai brings a light touch to the blend of comedy and pathos, even as pic drags in spots. Tech credits are capable. That’s Oscar-winning Czech director Jiri Menzel (“Closely Watched Trains”), skillfully dubbed, as a theater impresario with one of pic’s best lines.

Colossal Sensation! Dodo & Naphthalene

Hungary

Production

A HungariCom release (in Hungary) of a Filmsziget production. (International sales: Filmsziget, Budapest.) Produced by Gabor P. Koltai. Directed by Robert Koltai. Screenplay, Peter Horvath, Koltai.

Crew

Camera (color), Balazs Marton; editor, Mari Miklos; music, Laszlo Des, Pongracz Kacsoh, Laszlo Szilagyi, Jeno Huszka; sound, Istvan Nagy, Viktor Havasy, Istvan Nemes. Reviewed at Hungarian Film Week, Budapest, Feb. 7, 2005. Running time: 97 MIN.

Cast

With: Robert Koltai, Sandor Gaspar, Orsolya Toth, Anna Gyorgyi, Gyula Bodrogi, Jiri Menzel.
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