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.