This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
Nobody makes light-hearted farces like Spanish comedy "My Big Night," a comedy about the filming of a New Year's Eve telecast in October, any more. The film seems to hail from a different time, though I'd be hard-pressed to say exactly what time that was. Directed and co-written by Spanish post-punk filmmaker Alex de la Iglesia ("Witching and Bitching"), "My Big Night" is a a hybrid of star-studded extravaganzas of the '60s, like "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," and the raunchy gag-centric spoofs of the '70s and '80s, like "Kentucky Fried Movie." There's also a surreal element to the film that reminded me of Luis Bunuel's "The Exterminating Angel," another absurdist comedy about people stuck in a room with no exits. "My Big Night" brings all these films to mind because it's just as novel.
The premise of "My Big Night" is fine, but the film's execution is what really sells it. Jose (Pepon Nieto), a dumpy-looking everyman, is hired as an extra after another schlubby-looking, non-descript patsy is crushed mercilessly by an ill-attended camera crane. Jose is then seated amongst a group of people who laugh, dance, and cheer whenever the camera crew needs them to. The booze and food on Jose's plate is fake, and his fellow guests are all restless: they try to guess the Wifi password, buy contraband alcohol, and show off their scars to each other while they wait for their next cue.
Jose's companions also have competing agendas since each feel that they are the show's real stars: aging pop singer Alphonso (Raphael) tries to steal a prized time slot from airheaded young rival Adanne (Mario Casas) while fed-up personal assistant Yuri (Carlos Areces) plots to murder his step-father Alphonso and co-hosts Roberto (Hugo Silva) and Cristina (Carolina Bang) bully each other just to get the best monologues.
"My Big Night" is thankfully full of inspired sight gags, and gut-busting dialogue. Don't ask me to list all of my favorite moments from the film; there are too many. Most of the film's more inspired moments are small, though the film's cast earns belly laughs throughout. Sometimes I cracked up at something as minor as the robotic whooshing noise that Alphonso's chair makes as he spins around dramatically to confront Yuri. Sometimes it was a well-timed comedy routine that got me, like when Cristina gives Roberto an allergic reaction, and then tries to wrestle some A-material lines away from him while he hides half of his face behind various carnival masks.
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