So here’s a different film for me to review. A true-to-form foreign film. I’m pretty sure I haven’t reviewed one at all this year. I doubt this year’s A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS really counts as it was written, directed, and did star an American actress and film-maker. No, this is straight-up a Mexican film, made by a Mexican film company, starring Mexicans. Wow, I’m probably acting like I’ve never heard of this before, but what astounds me is that I literally haven’t reviewed a foreign film… at all this year. It feels weird to me.
But oh well, apparently, this particular comedy has a bit of history to it. It’s actually a remake (jeez, even Mexico is running out of ideas) of a 2013 German comedy called FACK JU GÖHTE, translating(?) to: “Fuck you, Goethe,” (Goethe = German poet Johann Wolfgang [von] Goethe… I think). Or according to IMDb, the American title is “Suck Me, Shakespeer.” To be honest, I’m trying to make sense of this title myself, but it’s all sort of confusing to me. I don’t speak German. Cue a “waa waa.” Might wanna cue a second one actually because I have no idea what “No manches Frida” translates to. Yeah yeah, you’ll look at my profile picture and see a Hispanic/Latino guy, but I never learned Spanish. How did ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK put it? I’m a “coconut.”
I knew this movie had been out for a bit now. Since Labor Day, I believe. But I guess I wasn’t interested in paying for a foreign film that I knew nothing about. No trailers, no TV spots, no articles online, nothing but a cardboard poster in the dark corner of the second floor of the movie theatre it’s playing in. Couldn’t be too impressive. But I found myself in a unique position to see it for free, so I took advantage.
I can’t exactly talk about the cast or the crew, as I wouldn’t be familiar with anyone’s work. I don’t keep up with foreign films unless they generate enough buzz to be released in America. Although I guess it might be fun to acknowledge the film’s actress Martha Higareda, who has been in a few American projects before, like STREET KINGS (2008) and SMOKIN’ ACES 2: ASSASSIN’S BALL (2010) and an episode of HAWAII FIVE-0. Beyond that, yeah, I got nothing.
In any case, I look at this trailer and it looks… okay. I’m not going in with the highest of expectations, but it could be funny. We’ll see. This is my honest opinion of NO MANCHES FRIDA.
The story follows Zequi (Omar Chaparro). He’s a thief who has recently been in jail, but is finally let out. However, he owes a lot of money to a dangerous club owner. He had the money before going to jail, but he had his partner hide it so it wouldn’t be confiscated. Once he’s out, he’s met with his dim-witted partner Jenny (Rocio Garcia) and they go and find the money, which she buried in a school. However, there’s one minor problem: the spot where Jenny buried the money now has a the school’s gymnasium built on top of it. With little to no choice, he discovers that the school is in need of some help with open spots for substitute teachers, as the school is loaded with teenagers that are undisciplined and out of control. He decides in order to be close to the buried money, Zequi poses as a sub. Soon follows a rough romantic relationship with the incredibly lovely and overly kind Lucy (Martha Higareda), embarks on an equally rough relationship with the most unruly class in the school, all the while mining for his missing money.
Pfft… this will be a tad complicated because on the one hand, this movie got really carried away with it’s own humor that is all over the place, ranging from jokes that fall flatter than a crepe getting ran over by a steam roller, to some cartoonishly senseless slapstick. Have I mentioned how predictable it was and how this story has been done a thousand times before, even in American films? FREEDOM WRITERS (2007), DEAD POETS SOCIETY (1989), COACH CARTER (2005), the list goes on. And this movie does nothing to distinguish itself other than be a comedy. But you can argue that THE MIGHTY DUCKS (1992) covered that. And yet… I found myself strangely engaged in what was happening. I want to say that this movie is something of a guilty pleasure.
I guess as some point, I sort of just accepted that this was going to be an incredibly offbeat movie and I decided to accept what I was watching. I mean, there’s a scene where Lucy gets injected with goat hormones that makes her horny and high as a kite, acting like a sexy cat toward Zequi when he takes her home to recover… resulting in her acting like a regular cat, licking water from a dog bowl… and then collapsing in the bowl asleep. Hell, this movie practically opens with a teacher jumping out a two, three story window, unable to deal with the unruliness of the subject class of misfits. The teacher strikes the ground and you see blood pooling around her head. I’m sitting there scrambling to pull my jaw off the ground, and then it’s revealed that not only is she alive, but the “blood” was a juice box that she landed on. Lucy’s right above her checking this poor woman, then she suddenly wakes up and begs Lucy to kill her. Holy shit, this was way too dark for this kind of light-hearted, peppy movie, and… she fell two, three stories! She’s dead!
Despite all the absurdities that this movie is marinated in, I suppose the reason why more than a few of them still get laughs out of me is because the actors’ expressions are just as big and expressive as the big and absurd things happening. So I wasn’t truly bored, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t kind of enjoying it. But don’t start accusing me of saying this movie is good. It’s not. It’s like when I saw this year’s THE 5TH WAVE. Because the movie hits almost every beat and is about as carbon copy of The Hunger Games franchise as it could get, it was so enjoyable to watch simply for how much it wasn’t trying. This movie has a similar effect, even though it’s issue is trying too hard.
I’m not sure what else to talk about. It’s a stupid little movie that’s hard not to find enjoyable. Are you looking for a groundbreaking comedy about inspiring teachers helping teen scamps be all that they can be? Don’t bother. It’s every single one you’ve seen before. But if you’re looking for that story, but screams “screw it,” and goes balls to the wall insane with its gimmicks, you might get a laugh or two. I guess I’m glad I saw it, but once was enough for me.
My honest rating for NO MANCHES FRIDA: 3/5
- WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS
- trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ws74Ie4fMc8
- WILD LIFE:
- trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNCjU9VEuNc