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Welcome to the South

"Welcome to the South" is that rarity, a remake better and subtler than the original.

With:
With: Claudio Bisio, Alessandro Siani, Angela Finocchiaro, Valentina Lodovini, Nando Paone, Giacomo Rizzo, Teco Celio, Fulvio Falzarano, Nunzia Schiano, Alessandro Vighi, Francesco Albanese, Salvatore Misticone, Riccardo Zinna, Naike Rivelli. (Italian dialogue, Cilento dialect)

The first of the skedded redos of French megahit “Welcome to the Sticks,” Luca Miniero’s “Welcome to the South” is that rarity, a remake better and subtler than the original. Reversing geographic positions, pic pokes fun at stereotypes associated with Italy’s south, but otherwise sticks close to Dany Boon’s tentpole. Though Miniero lacks a definable style, scripter Massimo Gaudioso makes the stock situations warmly funny without crudeness. “Welcome” is doing boffo biz in Italy with nearly $24 million after three weeks and has presold to a number of offshore territories, yet heavy reliance on pronunciation and local prejudices may limit its B.O.

Postal employee Alberto (Claudio Bisio) wants a transfer to Milan from his home in the same region, but he’s sent instead to Castellabate, near Salerno in Campania province. Unwilling to subject wife Maria (Valentina Lodovini) to the imagined Mafia-infested, uncouth south, he travels alone with trepidation, only to fall for the charm and warmth of the locals. Miniero previously sent up north-south preconceptions in “A Neapolitan Spell,” though without this level of breezy fun, effortlessly conveyed by a game cast. But why is Norah Jones on the soundtrack?

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Welcome to the South

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Production: A Medusa (in Italy) release of a Medusa Film, Constantin Film Prod. production, in collaboration with Cattleya, Sky. (International sales: Pathe Intl., Paris.) Produced by Riccardo Tozzi, Giovanni Stabilini, Marco Chimenz, Francesca Longardi. Executive producers, Dany Boon, Giorgio Magliulo, Matteo De Laurentiis, Antonella Iovino. Directed by Luca Miniero. Screenplay, Massimo Gaudioso, adapted from the film "Welcome to the Sticks" ("Bienvenue chez les ch'tis") directed by Dany Boon, written by Boon, Franck Magnier, Alexandre Charlot.

Crew: Camera (color), Paolo Carnera; editor, Valentina Mariani; music, Umberto Scipione; production designer, Paola Comencini; costume designer, Sonu Mishra. Reviewed at the Space Cinema Moderno, Rome, Oct. 12, 2010. Running time: 105 MIN.

With: With: Claudio Bisio, Alessandro Siani, Angela Finocchiaro, Valentina Lodovini, Nando Paone, Giacomo Rizzo, Teco Celio, Fulvio Falzarano, Nunzia Schiano, Alessandro Vighi, Francesco Albanese, Salvatore Misticone, Riccardo Zinna, Naike Rivelli. (Italian dialogue, Cilento dialect)

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