Everyone in the world can see The Return of the King now, except us Italians; the film has had a simultaneous worldwide release, except in Italy. According to the New York Times, this is because “in Italy moviegoing is not an ingrained holiday habit.” Wrong! Italian cinemas are more packed at Christmas than any other time of year, although the focus is generally on family movies: Finding Nemo has only recently been released, and the annual Disney film is usually shown at Christmas, even if it was a summer release in the US.
Another holiday movie tradition is the stupid Italian comedy, in recent years dominated by comedians (to use the term loosely) Massimo Boldi and Christian de Sica (the sadly degenerate son of director Vittorio de Sica). These films usually exploit the previous summer’s pop music hits, so an Indian theme this time around was predictable – Panjabi MC hit the Italian airwaves earlier this year. Mr. MC even did a tour of Italian TV shows, being interviewed by dim hosts and hostesses who pretended he spoke Italian (they didn’t bother to provide a translator – maybe they didn’t realize he speaks English?), and ended up looking far stupider than he did even when he had no clue what they were talking about.
Fortuitously for Boldi and de Sica, a recently-popular Italian comic troupe is called “I Fichi d’India.” Neither they nor their name have anything to do with India; “Indian Figs” is the Italian name for the fruit of the prickly-pear cactus, which is popular in Italy, though maybe unknown in India. But any excuse will do to enlarge the cast and add to the stock of fatuous jokes. No doubt there are plenty of scantily-clad women in this one as well, though in the trailer they’re mostly shown dancing. Why any of these women would want to have even movie sex with Massimo Boldi is beyond me.
My husband’s theory is that “The Return of the King” is being delayed in Italy because the Italian distributors know very well that Italians love to go to the cinema at Christmas, and any good film would wipe the floor with this rubbish. So here we are, waiting for Viggo (and Orlando, of course) until January 22nd. Boldi and De Sica are no substitute.