La Gran Vida (2001) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

La Gran Vida (2000), aka Living It Up, is a marvelous Spanish comedy staring Salma Hayek.
Carmelo Gómez plays a Madrid city bus driver, and decides to end it all, since he feels like he is in a dead end existence with no money and no friends. His first plan, turning on the gas, fails because his gas has been turned off due to non-payment. Walking through the middle of traffic gets him no closer. He is about to jump off a bridge when a man makes him an interesting offer. He is to borrow a million bucks from the Mafia for a week at 50% interest, live the high life for a week, then be killed by the Mafia when he can't pay.  


There are topless strippers in an early scene (candidates for best anonymous nudity of the year), and Salma shows breasts in a dark love scene. She also is seen in lingerie in several scenes. 
One of his first acts is to throw a huge party, where waitress Salma Hayek catches his eye. Saying more would be a spoiler, and I saw every plot twist coming ahead of time anyway, but nothing is exactly what it first seems. 

I adored this film. The set-up was fresh, and Salma was majorly cute. The DVD is an excellent transfer, and you have your choice of very good dubbed dialogue or subtitles. Art direction and camera work were very nice as well. Even if you are not fond of romantic comedies or foreign films, you might well like this one.  

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 2.35:1

  • making-of featurette

Scoop's comments:

Agree. Cute romantic comedy

They sure know a lot in Spain about certain aspects of filmmaking, don't they? It is finally sinking into my thick skull, but the Spanish filmmakers kind of snuck up on me before I realized they were so damned good at the technical side, lighting, and set design.

It seems to me that the lighting and the visual aesthetics in Spanish films may be, on the average, the best in the world. The photography is always so spectacular, the sets so colorful, the lighting so perfect, and I generally love the music, as well.

The Critics Vote

  • No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 8.4, but based on only 35 votes.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B- (both reviewers).

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