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Verbal and visual gags energetically chase each other around to pleasurable, undemanding effect in Fernando Colomo's compactly formed, slick sex-and-technology comedy, "It."

Domingo - Daniel Guzman Elizabeth - Diana Galvez Tinin - Antonio Molero Miguel Angel - Javier Camara Marcial - Saturnino Garcia Carmona - Paco Maestre

Verbal and visual gags energetically chase each other around to pleasurable, undemanding effect in Fernando Colomo’s compactly formed, slick sex-and-technology comedy, “It.” A modest budget and tight shooting schedule barely show, and the zestful perfs and well-chiseled, on-the-pulse script — mixing a teenage love story with some witty observations on TV culture — will guarantee a warm Spanish reception, with offshore distribution a distinct likelihood if the film’s easy-to-swallow approach is correctly packaged.

Along with 1994’s “Allegro ma non troppo,” pic reps Colomo’s best ’90s work, and shows a more subtle contempo alertness than is often found in Spanish comedy. Originally made for TV in 1994, pic won a prize at that year’s Munich festival, which led to its home theatrical release.

“It” is sex. Slightly nerdy 18-year-old Domingo (Daniel Guzman) is obsessed with losing his virginity, but his night-shift job in a department store means he can never meet girls. Urged on by heart-of-gold rogue sidekick Tinin (vibrant newcomer Antonio Molero), he takes to borrowing clothes from the store to achieve the necessary elegance to lose his virginity. In a stylish bar, he meets diplomat’s daughter Elizabeth (Diana Galvez, who tragically died two years ago, and to whom pic is dedicated). Domingo tells fibs, transforming himself into “Luis Carlos,” and continues to borrow from the department store.

So far, pic is pleasant enough. It’s when we realize that “Elizabeth” — whose real name is Isabel and whose father is actually a cop — is part of a TV reality show being filmed by hidden camera, with the aim that the two will get married on air, that pic shifts into a higher gear. Hysterical Carmona (Paco Maestre), Isabel’s ex-b.f., interrupts live on the scene to further thwart the program’s success, and the movie becomes a hall-of-mirrors farce.

The technically accomplished Colomo demonstrates flair in combining video and “real” images, and in cutting between studio scenes with larger-than-life TV director Miguel Angel (Javier Camara) and the developing relationship of the young couple, who are falling in love.

The running gags (including a condom that never gets used) generally work, and dialogue manages moments of real wit. Apart from the penultimate scenes, in which TV’s wrists are roundly slapped for pursuing the ratings war at all costs, Colomo’s satire is typically soft-edged, with everything resolutely played for laughs. Any darker implications — such as the ways in which we mold ourselves according to the laws of TV — are safely sidestepped.

Though pic flags slightly in the final half-hour, overall pacing is excellent, with Molero in particular reaffirming helmer Colomo’s ability to get maximum audience appeal from young performers. Music by Julian Brenan has an aptly ironic flavor, and tech credits are up to scratch.



Production: A Lider Films release (in Spain) of a Fernando Colomo/Aurum Producciones production, with the collaboration of Antena 3 TV. (International sales: Fernando Colomo, Madrid.) Produced by Beatriz de la Gandara. Directed by Fernando Colomo. Screenplay, Jose Angel Esteban, Carlos Lopez.

Crew: Camera (color), Javier Salmones; editor, Miguel Angel Santamaria; music, Julian Brenan; art direction, Vicente Ruiz; sound (Dolby), Julio Recuero. Reviewed at Acteon Cinema, Madrid, June 26, 1997. Running time: 110 MIN.

With: Domingo - Daniel Guzman Elizabeth - Diana Galvez Tinin - Antonio Molero Miguel Angel - Javier Camara Marcial - Saturnino Garcia Carmona - Paco Maestre

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