Wednesday, June 18, 2008

From Brazil with Love

Os Trapalhões na Guerra dos Planetas / The Trapalhões in Planet Wars, boasts a credit that it was “baseado no filme Guerra Nas Estrelas” (based on the film Star Wars). One of a long series of films starring the Trapalhões—translated roughly as The Tramps, The Bunglers, or The Dabblers—a Brazilian musical “comedy” troupe, this painful flick has the group helping Prince Flick (Pedro Aguinaga) find the other half of a “brain computer” to defeat the evil Zuco (Carlos Kurt wearing a Darth Vadar meets leatherman outfit) and retrieve Princess Mirna (Maria Cristina Nunes). They’re helped by Flick’s copilot Bonzo (7’2” basketball star Emil Assad Rached looking like Jojo the dog-faced boy) as they fight giant spiders, invisible attackers, and Tusken Raiders.

Feeling like a long episode of Sid & Marty Kroft’s “Far Out Space Nuts,” the movie is definitely a product of its age. More than just ripping off the general plot and characters of Star Wars, the obligatory cantina scene takes place on a soundstage where it looks like a variety show might break out at any moment. While disco dancing with aliens, Luke Skywalker stand-in Flick does some awesome karate against his foes.

This shot-on-video epic looks like it was made by a group of junior high students learning their way around cast off cable access equipment. Utilizing fast motion, repeated shots, backwards footage, incredibly bad chromakey effects, and slide whistles galore, these nasty gimmicks only emphasize how painfully poor the antics of the Trapalhões translate into English. Acting like a cross between the Monkees and the Three Stooges, the Trapalhões’s broad comedy probably appeals to preschoolers or dorm room pot smokers.

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