English Title: Welcome to the South
Original Title: Benvenuti al sud
Music: Umberto Scipione
Cinematography: Paolo Carnera
It’s an Italian remake of WELCOME TO THE STICKS (Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis 2008, which was the most successful French film in France drawing an astronomical 20.2 million viewers then, now the honorable championship been eclipsed by another more mammoth money-maker INTOUCHABLES 2011), which I have never seen, but the originality must be watered-down (a quasi-identical plot) while as luck would have it, the gags are universal (at least between neighbors like France and Italy).
A region-dissimilarity comedy’s usual three trumps could be dialects, knowledge/customs and surroundings, which all being exploited in the film without any reservation, and the effect is positively amusing for the first 45 minutes, then when all the farce extinguishes as the village’s fascinating appeal is fully exposed, in order not to lump into stasis, the old trick of mending lies is an unfulfilled highlight here.
The cast is par for the course, Claudio Bisio’s comedic bent hasn’t been completely unleashed though, Angela Finocchiaro is too weary for her role and the younger pair Alessandro Siani and Valentina Lodovini’s overtly unrequited love set piece is a tad well-worn, and btw, the French version’s director-writer-actor, Dany Boon has a cameo in it.
On an entertaining level, the film belongs to a genial genre comedy which at least has a sincere caution to not being too vulgar or undervaluing its audience’s intelligence quotient. It’s little wonder that it has conquered a financially-rewarding gross in the domestic market, and also set a perfect template for remakes of other topographically diverse countries (I am bit surprised that a Hollywood remake hasn’t been initiated yet! There’s no drought in the comedy field now?).