The fact that Che Bella Giornata (What a Beautiful Day) made Italian box office history last year by becoming the most successful homegrown film of all time just goes to show how much Europeans love their slapstick comedy (you’ve heard that whole thing about Jerry Lewis and France, right?). During its first five days of release it took in an unprecedented 19 million euros and now its looking to take Toronto audiences and the inaugural Italian Contemporary Film Festival by storm.
Starring uber-popular stand-up comic/musician Checco Zalone, who’s sort of like a less-schlubby version of Adam Sandler, the story follows a sweet but hapless mama’s boy (who also happens to be named Checco). What Checco wants most in the world is to quit his job as the bouncer at a disco and become a Carabiniere (a.k.a. a military police officer), but he just can’t seem to pass the pesky exam that stands between him and true happiness. Regardless, he lucks his way into a prestigious job guarding a statue called the Madonnanina at Milan’s Duomo and when a lovely young Arab woman (Nabira Akkari) named Farah befriends him, he’s too smitten to realize that she’s making plans to bomb the cathedral in order to avenge her parents’ deaths during the Gulf War.
While watching Che Bella Giornata, you get the feeling that the film exists solely as a showcase for Zalone — which is probably the case since Zalone and Director Gennaro Nunziante wrote the screenplay. It’s lightweight, breezy and riddled with one-liners that are more than likely straight out of Zalone’s stage act. Everyone’s so nice, including the terrorists, that it’s hard not to enjoy the film’s comforting by-the-books plot as it unfolds – just don’t expect to remember anything about the movie once you leave the theatre. The more memorable and interesting themes concerning intolerance towards different cultures are there but unfortunately get lost in the shuffle of pratfalls and Inspector Clouseau impressions.
Che Bella Giornata screens on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 and Thursday, June 28, 2012 at the Italian Contemporary Film Festival. Check their website for details.