Muertos de risa (1999) from Tuna

Muertos de risa (1999) is a broad comedy featuring Santiago Segura as Nino, and El Gran Wyoming as Bruno, who make it big as a comedy team, but secretly hate each other. Appropriate to its title, which translates to Dying of Laughter, the story begins near the end, with Nino and Bruno rushing to a reunion, where they actually shoot each other on camera in front of a live audience. The audience laughs uproariously, thinking it is the typical slapstick and staged rivalry they expected from this comedy duo.

This leaves their manager to explain how it all happened ...

Bruno is quick witted and good looking, a part time actor, and a bartender in a small club in the sticks. Nino lives with his mother, and sings in the bar. One night, a bunch of Franco's troops burn the bar down after Nino accidently kills their goat, so the pair head of to Madrid to become famous as a comedy team.

Bruno has nerve enough for both, but is just not funny. Nino is funny, but freezes when the performances begin. Their manager books them into a traveling vaudeville troupe where the star attraction is topless dancers. In front of a particularly rough audience, Nino freezes as usual, and Bruno slaps him across the face. The audience roars with laughter, and the seeds of their success are born. Bruno is a straight man who everyone loves, but who would love to be naturally funny. Nino is naturally funny, but feels nobody respects him. This leads to competition between the two that eventually grows into full hatred.

An incident with Laura (Carla Hidalgo) is one of the big reasons for the friction between them. She and Nino are hitting it off perfectly one night, but then she disappears. Nino returns to the room, and finds Bruno asleep, and Laura naked in the shower.


Hidalgo does lengthy full frontal nudity in the shower when Nino sees her, and the Showgirls in the vaudeville troupe show their breasts on stage

Much of the humor is physical, and all is broad, but slapstick can still be funny, and I thoroughly enjoyed it here. The only English language reviewer loved the film as much as I did, but the IMDB comments are sharply polarized. For me, this was a total delight, whether you identify with Nino, who makes a living getting his face slapped, or Bruno, the man who would give anything to be really funny, you will relate to someone in the story.

The Letterbox transfer is decent quality, and the subtitles are well written.  Unfortunately, it is only available on Region 2 DVD from Spain.

not currently available in Region 1
Scoop's note: Alex de la Iglesia, the director of this film, is the same guy who directed Perdita Durango, the adolescent Tarantinoesque splatterfest which stars Rosie Perez and Javier Bardem.

The Critics Vote

  • Alex Angula (as their manager) was nominated for the Goya as best supporting actor

The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: gross unknown. Budget US$3.5 million
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-.

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