Between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, a Mexican television program called “Another Roll” gained a lot of popularity in various countries thanks to cable television. Even without mass internet, social networks and much less pirate broadcasts on YouTube or Facebook, thousands of viewers from countries such as Peru, enjoyed two hours (sometimes much more) of humor and world-class guests. All covered by a millionaire budget that only the giant Televisa could guarantee you.
In this program many segments stood out. To the already mentioned international guests and the humor sketches, it was however a segment that captivated with particular apprehension. We are talking about the “monologue”, masterfully executed week after week by Adal Ramones, a mestizo comedian, short, with an aquiline nose and who, broadcast after broadcast, surprised us with a hat different from the previous one.
Ramones -and his team of librettists- prepared a theme per week and on it he ironized and satirized in all the ways that any of us could imagine. Searching YouTube videos of the first monologues and comparing them with those executed in the last year of the program show us one thing: the effect was always the same, laughter everywhere.
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Although the ‘stand ups’ were not at all something new, Adal’s style marked an era. Perhaps that is why when his program was taken off the air hundreds of people paid very expensive tickets to go see him in theaters in Central America, South America and the United States. The imprint of this comedian who looked like any of us made some of us follow in his footsteps. Thus, he was seen participating in one or another reality show (as a host he even went on to switch to Televisa’s rival network, Azteca), but also in series and movies.
But it’s been on Netflix that the Ramones’ presence seems poised to give a new boost. The success achieved in the well-remembered “Another Roll” perhaps explains why “Cuarentones”, the recently released film in which he shares the leading role with Erick Elías and Gaby Espino, leads the rankings of the most viewed films in Latin America. The years, and it is worth saying, do not pass in vain. The actor today is sixty years old and almost everything on his face confirms it. That, however, is not the subject of this note, but to comment on the comedy that Pietro Loprieno has seen fit to write and direct.
“Cuarentones” tells the story of two friends and cooking partners: César (Erick Elías) and Paolo (Adal Ramones). Both seem to spend their days without major shocks in the restaurant L’Allegría. It is a medium-sized, independent or “entrepreneurial” establishment that is characterized not only by its good Italian food, but fundamentally by an unusual factor when it comes to the gastronomic industry: entertainment.
In addition to cooking in the middle of the dining room, César and Paolo have almost given their lives to the restaurant they manage. There they tell each other everything that happens to them on a day-to-day basis. So we quickly find out that Paolo has two ex-wives in Italy, one of whom demands 10 thousand euros for her son’s university. However, this problem seems minimal if we see the other side: César lives a terrible bad streak that the script quickly decides to reveal: his wife cheated on him for 10 years about the false paternity of the child they both had. As if that were not enough, overnight, his mother loses her life.
From here, “Cuarentones” offers a second wind. The chef friends have won a trip to compete in an independent restaurant contest to be held in Cancun. The prize: 20 thousand dollars. Although visibly emotionally shaken by his personal problems, César agrees to go and participate with his friend Paolo. It is worth mentioning here that, although we are facing a comedy, and although it is extremely difficult to separate the actor Ramones from the Ramones who performed the monologues in “Otro roll”, the proposal here is of a much more leisurely humor.
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Already in Cancun, the chefs must advance stage by stage in the days that the contest lasts. But not everything is food and qualifying juries. “Cuarentones” includes a couple of friends who fit in perfectly with César and Paolo. With the first is Naomi, played by experienced Venezuelan actress Gaby Espino. While with the second is Selina (Sonia Couoh).
The plot proposal of Pietro Loprieno’s film is simple: a man who does everything possible so that his best friend quickly overcomes the misfortunes that fate has brought him. In the middle is added not only a beautiful face like Naomi’s, but mainly a woman capable of engaging in interesting conversations, who make César react and even seem to get him out of the hole on more than one occasion.
What is the best thing about this movie? The first, without a doubt: each actor represents the age that the story suggests. In the central, Erick Elías, on whom falls the greatest acting demand. At 41 years old, this actor comes from interpreting before the start of the pandemic the most expensive remake of “Ugly Betty”, that is, “Betty in New York”. It was not easy for Elías to put himself in the shoes that Jorge Enrique Abello once wore to bring Armando Mendoza to life, in a modern and very progressive version of a classic Latin American soap opera.
In “Cuarentones”, Elías seems to fulfill just enough the role of a father of that age who suddenly has to face two situations that could drive anyone crazy. From the side of Ramones and Espino, we can say that the former brings everything that can make us laugh in a movie, while the latter captivates with undeniable ease.
And if it’s time to write weaknesses, it would be impossible not to mention how the small dramas are easily diluted throughout much of the story. Like when César’s mom dies from one moment to another, or when he finds out out of nowhere, he has to separate from his son. In other words, when it seems that the script can be strengthened, a scene change cuts everything and starts again. Finally, the appearance of a series of characters such as the organizer of the contest or the very ‘conquest’ of Paolo, whose roles in the long run seem not to be justified.
Once the additions and subtractions are done, “Cuarentones” is a comedy that fulfills its purpose of making us laugh. Its pillars are clear: an experienced comedian and an actor with a dazzling present, inserts in 90 minutes that will help us understand how leaning on our friends can be the best way to get out of a bad moment.
Forties / Netflix
Synopsis: After learning a bitter truth, a chef joins his best friend and business partner in a culinary competition in Cancun to bring spice back to his life.
Original title: “40s”
Duration: 81 minutes
Classification: 14 years
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