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Say I Do

First-time helmer Juan Calvo's attempt at a modern screwball comedy meets with mixed results in Col Spain's high-profile flagship offering, "Say I Do." Presence of star Paz Vega, complemented by a mighty marketing push, meant outstanding first-weekend B.O. in mid-November, with several offshore territories also likely to say they will.

With:
With: Paz Vega, Santi Millan, Santiago Segura, Pepe Viyuela, Constantino Romero, Chus Lampreave, Ornella Muti.

First-time helmer Juan Calvo’s attempt at a modern screwball comedy meets with mixed results in Col Spain’s high-profile flagship offering, “Say I Do.” On the plus side are energetic perfs from a nicely-paired central tandem, a slick pop aesthetic and a meticulous attention to detail. On the minus side, the sometimes clever but rarely funny script seems to have had 90% of its charm and freshness carefully excised. Still, the presence of star Paz Vega, complemented by a mighty marketing push, meant outstanding first-weekend B.O. in mid-November, with several offshore territories also likely to say they will.

Col Spain’s goal is to bring Spanish cinema to a wider international audience, but it’s questionable whether this is the type of film that will accomplish that goal.

Wannabe actress Estrella (Paz Vega) dreams of becoming a hostess on a romance reality-TV show presented by Amador Rosales (Constantino Romero). Meanwhile, movie usher and film buff Victor (Santi Millan), who hates such reality shows, is being pressured by his mother (Chus Lampreave) to be a contestant.

Estrella and Victor end up the show’s winners and are pursued by a camera crew as they head off on their prize holiday together. Getting the two characters into place opposite one another involves a lot of script business, presumably aimed at concealing the sheer implausibility of it all, but the comic payoff is slight.

Estrella comes up with a plan: They’ll get married, take the prize money, but then quickly divorce. They do get married, but Rosales gets shot during the live broadcast. Estrella and Victor escape with the cash, and from here on pic becomes standard cat-and-mouse fare.

Thesps struggle desperately to inject interest into their basically unappealing characters, though Millan is given a little more with which to work. Other character development is slim to the point of caricature.

Pic is nonetheless never less than good-looking, with no visual expense spared. Still, the cynically manipulative script ends with the kind of emotionally false conclusion it purports to be satirizing in its TV scenes.

Among the minor roles, Santiago Segura’s once-high comic stock falls a little further, while a lost-at-sea Ornella Muti also cameos.

Say I Do

Spain

Production: A Columbia TriStar (Spain) release of a Columbia Films Producciones Espanolas, Zebra production, in association with Antena 3. Produced by Natacha Kucik, Antonio Saura. Directed, written by Juan Calvo.

Crew: Camera (color), Gonzalo Berridi; editor, Javier Laffaille; music, Federico Jusid. Reviewed at Cine Palafox, Madrid, Nov. 10, 2004. Running time: 104 MIN.

With: With: Paz Vega, Santi Millan, Santiago Segura, Pepe Viyuela, Constantino Romero, Chus Lampreave, Ornella Muti.

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