The phenomenally popular comic trio Aldo, Giovanni and Giacomo deliver another very local comedy with “Do You Know Claudia?” Running neck and neck with De Laurentiis’ “Christmas in Love,” pic topped the Italian holiday box office just behind “Shrek 2.” Aimed at all ages, story spins smiles around the loneliness and illusions of three men in love with the same woman. Cautiously following AG&S’s established money-making formula, “Claudia” sticks to the TV-style sketches that made the trio famous instead of exploring their theme in a balanced, well-structured script. The gags are sporadically funny, but overall effect is non-cumulative and a bit disappointing.
Narrator Claudia (Paola Cortellesi) is a pretty but mousy Milanese housewife unsatisfyingly married to Aldo (Aldo Baglio).
Initial stretch stumbles badly in presenting the backstory of Claudia’s supposed affair with kooky taxi driver Giovanni (Giovanni Storti). Giovanni mistakes Claudia for his real g.f. (Rossy De Palma). He believes Claudia has left him and becomes hysterically heart-broken.
Meanwhile, Claudia starts seeing the nearly divorced Giacomo (Giacomo Poretti), and Aldo becomes ferociously jealous. Aldo craftily insinuates himself into Giacomo’s life to keep tabs on his wife.
More than love problems, all four characters suffer from bad cases of social alienation (vet stage thesp Ottavia Piccolo delivers pic’s hottest cameo as a psychotherapist). Unfortunately that insight is barely worked out.
After the three men take a road trip that ends at the Tuscan home of Giacomo’s estranged wife (Sandra Ceccarelli), the mistaken identities unravel and the couples come together in a fairly happy ending.
Performances are the keystone here, and in the desolate panorama of current Italian comedy, AG&G can be appreciated as original and multi-layered comics. But it is the talented young comedian Cortellesi who walks off with the film, adding another feather to her crown of noteworthy roles. Pic’s interest level descends notably when she’s off-screen.
Massimo Venier, who has cohelmed with the trio since their 1998 smash debut “Three Men and a Leg” and gets solo directing credit here, clearly has trouble keeping the spotty script together. Technically film is polished but unexceptional.