Feb 28, 2019
Here’s the last of the Netflix Originals for this week, one from the Spanish film scene, and a comedy at that. For a few other Spanish comedies, check out “The Motive” (Episode #234), “The Laws of Thermodynamics” (Episode #244), “Jefe” (Episode #308), and “The Tribe” (Episode #329). Also, don’t miss Luis Tosar’s ginormous eyebrows in “Gun City” (Episode #311) and Andrew Campbell’s review for “Sleep Tight” (Episode #397). And if you have any favorites, let us know over social media.
Here we go!
Today’s movie is “Yucatán”, the Netflix Original Spanish comedy directed by Daniel Monzón and written for the screen in collaboration with Jorge Guerricaechevarría. The film follows Lucas (Luis Tosar), Clayderman (Rodrigo de la Serna), and Verónica (Stephanie Cayo), three cruise ship con artists attempting to swindle as much of the wealth as possible from Antonio (Joan Pera), who recently won a multi-million euro lottery prize. In the process, they are forced to come to terms with their own lives and choices.
I’ve reviewed a couple films by Jorge Guerricaechevarría. “Sara’s Notebook” (Episode #150) was a decent political thriller set in the Congo. “The Warning” (Episode #213) was an intriguing, but complicated supernatural thriller. So, when I saw that this film of his was a comedy, I wasn’t sure what to expect, as humor seems quite absent from both films. But today’s film was a refreshing change, not only full of comedy, but also containing the deceptive complexity of the other two films... and some of the same flaws. All three films have great premises, but they don’t always stick the landing, and today’s film is no exception.
“Yucatán” takes place on a cruise ship sailing from Spain to Mexico, and in particular the Yucatán peninsula, where our mark, Antonio, has quite a few important memories. He has taken his family on this cruise for private reasons, revealed in the course of the film, even as his family overtly criticizes how little money they’ve received from the lottery prize. Our trio of con artists, we also learn, have a past together, with a subplot involving a love triangle between the three, not unlike the subplot for Danny Ocean in Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s 11” remake. Lucas is here to try and win back Verónica, while also working to swindle Antonio. Verónica is tiring of the con artist life, and her possibly real, possibly fake marriage to Clayderman. And Clayderman is all about the money, to the exclusion of nearly everyone else. All three will go to great lengths to insert themselves into Antonio’s life, doing some hilariously dastardly deeds to separate Antonio’s family from him to better manipulate him, at least until they finally overextend themselves, leading to some major conflicts.
It’s at this point when the film starts to lose its focus, and the film, as a whole, has trouble coming to a close. The film takes a nose dive between the second and third acts, as the remaining characters all end up disappointed with how events have turned out, completely killing momentum. The film does pick up after that, towards a final climax that is passable, and surprisingly on theme, with a fun stinger at the end. Even if the film struggles to close, the journey along the way is filled with great musical numbers, some hilarious comedic action scenes, and quite a few clever cons on lesser characters. The strengths overcome the weaknesses, more often than not, and overall, it’s a fun ride.
“Yucatán” (2018) is a campy con man crime caper set aboard a cruise ship, with competing teams attempting to swindle a lottery winner, and each other in the process. While it starts out strong, and tends to be fun throughout, the story grinds nearly to a halt in preparation for a decent third act. Fans of crime capers, especially with con artists, should definitely check out this film.
Will you like it? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
One Movie Punch: 8.1/10
“Yucatán” (2018) is rated TV-MAand is currently playing on Netflix.