Francophone comedy looks to remain a local phenom.
Popular Quebecois helmer Ricardo Trogi’s coming-of-age laffer, “1981,” finds its hero (coincidentally named Ricardo Trogi) and his family having just moved to an upscale neighborhood in the pic’s titular year. A true child of the ’80s, Ricardo (Jean-Carl Boucher) is the consummate consumer, obsessively clutching a huge mail-order catalog that fuels his fantasies. Since helmer-narrator Trogi seeks to forge a sly complicity with his alter ego, the pic’s appeal, like that of its buck-toothed star, may depend on viewers’ nostalgic affection for the period. Francophone comedy, released in Canada shortly after its Montreal fest opening-night bow, looks to remain a local phenom.
Hopelessly outclassed by his more affluent schoolmates, Ricardo resorts to outright lying to impress his new pals and win over a straight-A’s femme charmer. The fabrications escalate as his working-class family fails to meet ballooning mortgage payments. The pic’s best gags involve Ricardo’s black-and-white daydreams wherein he intrudes on his father’s Italian past: The lad must convince French spouting Nazis not to burn down the village schoolhouse and thus prevent Dad from becoming a well-paid judge capable of affording the $300 calculator watch Ricardo lusts after.