Acolorful, attractively lensed romantic romp set in Havana, “Let’s Fiesta” reteams playwright-turned-director Angelo Longoni with personable leads Alessandro Gassman and Gianmarco Tognazzi after their 1995 national hit “Men Without Women.” Like their last effort, current offering won’t set the world on fire, but this first fruit of a production pact signed earlier this year between the Italian and Cuban governments has enough youthful energy to rouse local auds and may land scattered offshore sales to undemanding territories.
Story centers on Italians Sandro (Gassman) and Marco (Tognazzi), in Cuba to make a tourism video promoting the country as a nationwide amusement park of golden beaches, magnificent scenery, free-flowing rum and sexy, available women. Neurotic Marco’s ethics and noble worldview interfere with the assignment, while Sandro cares only about making a buck. But both are thrown off course by the charms of two local beauties (Lorena Forteza, a star overnight in Italy after megahit “The Cyclone,” and Yoandra Suarez Borrego), and by their scamming Italian driver (Blas Roca Rey).
Despite halfhearted attempts to build a thought-provoking backdrop out of the sociopolitical reality of rapidly changing Cuba, the tale amounts to little more than the usual love stuff set to a bombarding salsa beat. Submission of the script for Cuban government approval reportedly was required, and while fleeting mention is made of such down factors as poverty, prostitution, the difficulties of local private enterprise, the black market for impossible-to-obtain medical supplies and the pervasive power of foreign currency, treatment is purely superficial.
Result is a smartened-up version of the grassroots comedies made popular by commercial hands like the Vanzina brothers, which frequently target the ugly Italian abroad for easy laughs. Attitude towards Cuba and Cubansalso comes off as vaguely patronizing, troweling on gratuitous local color and cliches.