We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
If an actor can become a national leader in America, then why not in Parador, a fictional country that seems to lie somewhere between Paraguay, Equador and Carmen Miranda’s memoirs? In Paul Mazursky’s “Moon Over Parador,” Richard Dreyfuss explores that possibility as a second-rate New York actor who is shooting a movie on location in Parador when the military dictator is finally killed by his imprudent lifestyle.
As it happens, Dreyfuss had been entertaining the dictator only days earlier with his own uncanny imitation of the leader’s voice and mannerisms. Now the military attache who is the power behind the throne (Raul Julia) offers Dreyfuss the full-time job of impersonating the dead leader. He makes it clear that this is an offer Dreyfuss cannot refuse.
This is the promising premise of a disappointing comedy that unfortunately doesn’t have near enough fun with it. Maybe the problem is that Mazursky spends too much time trying to get laughs out of Parador and not enough time making fun of actors. Given the rich vein of satire that Mazursky and Dreyfuss explored together in their brilliant “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” (1986), I expected a sharper edge to this collaboration.
The nation of Parador seems recycled directly out of every comic cliche Hollywood has ever created about Latin America. The country is led by bemedaled buffoons, ruled by nepotism, tamed by a corrupt army, inhabited by seething mobs of chanting peasants, entertained by endless national holidays and given solace by hot-blooded women who take their men neat. The woman in this story is played by Sonia Braga as the mistress of the departed dictator and an Eva Peron who is somewhat beloved by many of the seething masses. She quickly realizes that her lover has been replaced, of course, but rather likes this vulnerable New Yorker trying to grow into his new job.