Hrubes and Mares, Friends Come Rain or Shine" makes "Dumb and Dumber" look like Masterpiece Theater. Still, the Czech pic reps a visual upgrade from the primitive black-and-white of helmer Vladimir Moravek's more quirkily ingratiating debut, domestic hit "Bored in Brno." Local auds may be loyal, but "Hrubes" won't pick up many pals outside Prague.

Hrubes and Mares, Friends Come Rain or Shine” makes “Dumb and Dumber” look like Masterpiece Theater. Still, the Czech pic reps a visual upgrade from the primitive black-and-white of helmer Vladimir Moravek’s more quirkily ingratiating debut, domestic hit “Bored in Brno.” Local auds may be loyal, but “Hrubes” won’t pick up many pals outside Prague.

Twenty-seven-year-old Vaclav “Vasek” Hrubes (co-scripter-composer Jan Budar) and 24-year-old Josef “Pepa” Mares (Richard Krajco) have been best mates since childhood. Though they don’t seem to like each other very much, the dirt-poor duo set up house together when Vasek can no longer stand his manic parents (Iva Janzurova, Miroslav Donutil).

Most prominent story arc involves a docu helmer, Robert Karpatti (Robert Roth), who fools Vasek into believing he’s the Dalai Lama. There’s also a subplot that seems to involve Budar himself persuading Karpatti and assistant Sima (Simona Pekova) to make a movie called “Hrubes and Mares, Friends Come Rain or Shine.”

When he’s not doing solid character work in such quality export projects as Jan Hrebejk’s “Up and Down,” Budar’s specialty is zonked-out slackers pitched toward directionless, and attitudinal twentysomethings. By that dubious standard, his Vasek reps consistent work. Krajco’s cretinous Pepa is equally unpleasant.

Tech package reflects the project’s weary cynicism, with Milos Zimula’s art direction suggesting a garishly kitsch Prague.

Real-life popsters Lucie Bila, Karel Gott, Hana Zagorova and others prove good sports in fleeting cameos as themselves.

Hrubes And Mares, Friends Come Rain Or Shine

Czech Repubic

Production

A CinemArt release (in the Czech Republic), Continental Film release (in Slovakia) of a Prvni verejnopravni, CinemaArt, Ateiery Bonton Zlin production. (International sales: Prvni verejnopravni, Prague.) Produced by Cestmir Kopecky. Directed by Vladimir Moravek. Screenplay, Moravek, Jan Budar.

Crew

Camera (color), Divis Marek; editor, Jiri Brozek; music, Budar; art director, Milos Zimula; costume designer, Eva Moravkova; sound (Dolby Digital), Peter Mojzis. Reviewed on DVD, Sydney, Australia, April 19, 2006. (In Finale Pilzen Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 110 MIN.

With

Jan Budar, Richard Krajco, Miroslav Donutil, Iva Janzurova, Magdelena Borova, Robert Roth, Simona Pekova.
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