Prominent roles for Sabrina Ferilli and Manuela Arcuri,stars of popular nude calendars, may boost the local commercial fortunes of Neapolitan comic Vincenzo Salemme’s otherwise underwhelming third feature, “Freewheeling.” While the director and co-star Carlo Buccirosso successfully appropriate the verbose bantering style of the classic ’50s comedies that paired Toto and Peppino De Filippo, there’s little of interest surrounding their shtick in this sloppily scripted romp about a man paralyzed from post-surgical complications.
Salemme plays Pericle, a virile, life-loving guy confined to a wheelchair following a spinal operation. His legal recourse against the hotshot French surgeon hinges on the testimony of doctor chum Mario (Buccirosso), whose silence is being bought in exchange for career advancement. Accompanied by his lawyer (Maurizio Casagrande), shapely physiotherapist Silvia (Ferilli), two spinster aunts (Massimo Ceccherini, Nando Paone, taking bad drag to a new low) and the purely decorative Arcuri, Pericle shows up during Mario’s summer vacation to ensure his friend’s help. Comedy’s limited appeal lies in the rapport between Salemme, Buccirosso and, to a lesser extent, Casagrande, who have appeared together in all of helmer’s features, but their style is too theatrical to function fully onscreen.