The Monster (1994)
If this isn’t the funniest film I have ever seen then it must be a close second or third. Strong statement I know but I have seen it three times now since my first viewing about twenty years ago and my facial muscles are still sore a day later from smiling and laughing.
Roberto Benigni stars here as a bit of a con artist yet really a harmless soul. Through the use of some hilarious comic timing Roberto winds up as the number one suspect in a series of sexual murders.
This leads the police to put one of their women officers on this case in an undercover role. Nicoletta Braschi stars here as the women assigned to send Roberto’s sexual urges over the edge. Ever the con artist, Roberto sublets half of his apartment to our undercover officer. Little does he know that she is about to flash her body and crawl all over him at every opportunity she has. More often than not with a hand buried in her purse as she prepares to pull her gun and stop him dead in the act.
Not exactly a wiz with the ladies, Roberto isn’t quite sure what to make of his rather brazen roommate. He even turns to his playboy boss for advice. When he is working it’s with mannequins which is one of the reasons that our leading man wound up as the chief suspect in a case involving dismemberment.
Before long Nicoletta will realize that Roberto is harmless and there’s no way he could be responsible for the series of murders being committed. After all as she points out to the chief inspector, “I’ve done everything short of —– in his face.” You’ll have to use your imagination on that one.
Her fear turns to whimsical fun as she sees that Roberto is really a klutz who finds himself in odd situations. Sexual or otherwise. She even begins to enjoy the little games he plays at the grocery store and a dead on Buster Keaton(ish) relationship with a neighbor in the apartment building. It sets up the perfect fade out at the movie’s conclusion.
Roberto also directed this film and for those who are familiar with Life is Beautiful, Nicoletta Braschi was his leading lady in that Oscar winner as well. The two have been married since 1991. He is also the credited writer on this wonderfully thought out script that captures the essence of the silent comics from yesteryear.
The first time I saw this film years ago was on a late night viewing and I recall waking up my wife with my laughter. About five years ago I watched it with my oldest son and we laughed in unison. A sure sign that he found it a winner is my coming home and finding a roomful of teenage boys gathered around watching it shortly thereafter. Have I failed to mention in it’s in Italian and they had to watch it subtitled! Finally I watched it with my youngest son last night and once again marveled at it’s comedic timing and the screen chemistry of our leading players. Highly recommended for those needing a good laugh.