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Facing the big five-oh is a time for neuroses to flower and silliness to abound in “The Beauty of the Jackass,” Sergio Castellitto’s overcooked farce written by his novelist wife Margaret Mazzantini. The initial impression of an intelligent comedy populated by upper-middle-class leftists speaking with wit and brains quickly falls apart as the script turns into a pointless, grating muddle overstuffed with screeching characters. Hanging on despite mixed reviews following a mid-December opening, the pic has garnered a respectable $4,640,000 to date, yet outside chances are slim.

Successful architect Marcello (Castellitto) is turning 50, and he and shrink wife Marina (Laura Morante) plan a weekend gathering at their idyllic Tuscan country house. Old friends and even two of Marina’s patients are invited, but daughter Rosa (Nina Torresi) brings the biggest surprise when she introduces Armando (Enzo Jannacci), her T.S. Eliot-quoting b.f., old enough to be her grandfather. Observations on aging and parent-child dynamics take a back seat to unamusing Feydeau slapstick and even a Chekhovian sequence in the woods as Castellitto piles on quirky side plots and conversations highlighting everyone’s immaturity. Visuals, however, please, and the jazz score is impeccable.

The Beauty of the Jackass

Italy

  • Production: A Warner Bros. Pictures Italia release of a Warner Bros. Pictures presentation of a Cinemaundici, Alien Produzioni production. Produced by Roberto Cicutto, Luigi Musini, Sergio Castellitto. Executive producer, Gianni Di Prisco. Directed by Sergio Castellitto. Screenplay, Margaret Mazzantini.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Gianfilippo Corticelli; editor, Francesca Calvelli; music, Arturo Annecchino; production designer, Francesco Frigeri; costume designer, Chiara Ferrantini. Reviewed at Cinema Farnese, Rome, Jan. 19, 2011. Running time: 105 MIN.
  • With: With: Sergio Castellitto, Laura Morante, Enzo Jannacci, Marco Giallini, Barbora Bobulova, Gianfelice Imparato, Nina Torresi, Emanuela Grimalda, Lidia Vitale, Renato Marchetti, Lola Ponce, Erika Blanc, Svetlana Kevral, Pietro Castellitto, Valerio Lo Sasso, Valentina Mencarelli.
  • Music By: