The music of Gilberto Santa Rosa invades my mind at this moment. The salsa master has lodged his hit single Conciencia in an endless instant replay loop. The reason, I suspect, is my difficulty to catalog El Pelotudo, the latest comedy/sports entry in Dominican film. As in the song lyrics, my conscience compels me to focus on its many deficiencies of visual narrative (and taste), but “me dice el corazón” that I should consider it as close to surrealism we’ve seen in this industry, a work more sublime than ridiculous anchored by the courageous performance of its lead actor. So tough, this existential dilemma of mine!
El Pelotudo in a Nutshell
As seen in its trailers, El Pelotudo tells the story of Martín Alesso (Michel Gurfi), a young Argentine who, thanks to a childhood trip to New York, feels inexplicably drawn to baseball. His best friend (Diego Vicos) supports his obsession, even though he fails to understand it. Soccer is the norm in Argentina, after all. It is a genetic impulse, its practice unquestioned, making Martín a lonely anomaly in his homeland.
His golden opportunity comes when he discovers that his MLB idol (Gilberto Reyes) resides in Buenos Aires with his wife (Laura García Godoy). The boy manages to convince the retired Cuban pitcher to train him, but realizes that all avenues toward the Majors are closed except one: the Dominican Republic Winter Season. Certain of hist destiny, Martin flies to Santiago de los Caballeros where he is welcomed by Rigo (José Guillermo Cortines), a friend of the Cuban with contacts in the Águilas Cibaeñas team.
Since his lawyer Tabito (Felix ‘Ñonguito’ Tejeda) fails to find a way to sell an Argentine player without citizenship, he suggests a less legal way: passing the “pive” off as a Dominican named Pompirio. Add a love interest (Dalisa Joy), an antagonist (Fausto Rojas), two “experts” in extreme makeovers (Johnnie Mercedes and Amaury Pérez), an incredulous manager (Irvin Alberti) and sprinkle with other colorful characters (Yelitza Lora, Adalgisa Pantaleón, Daniel Díaz-Alejo, Ivan Camilo, Héctor Anibal, María Cristina Camilo, Luis Polonia, etcetera). Stir well, overheat in the oven, serve immediately and you still won’t have the slightest idea what this course will taste like.
El Pelotudo, written and directed by Raymond Hernández Jr., contains all the common faults of the average Dominican movie—weak script, inconsistent editing, bad music-but, unlike other entries, the presence of these faults feels justified, almost on purpose. Maybe it’s Claudio Chea’s good cinematography, Gurfi’s committed and shameless performance as Martín, or the general sense that all who worked on the production they had fun, which is reflected in the final product.
Yes, it has an abrupt ending. OK, the title makes no sense (is the Argentine equivalent of naming a movie with an anthropomorphic genitalia reference). There’s little logic behind it, it’s true (and the less we discuss its racist streak, the better). That said, I laughed watching the movie more than in many local comedies. Isn’t that supposed to be the idea in a comedy, regardless of whether or not the laughter always occurs in the parts the producers expect?
Children rarely mature the way their parents expected them to and that seldom means the “pibes” lack good qualities. Let’s also take into account that humor, like art, is subjective. Therefore, “me dice el corazón” that I should urge you to laugh with (at?) El Pelotudo, but “me grita la conciencia” to remind you not expect anything more profound than a strange good time.
This review was first published on the Revista U website. Click here for the original article (in Spanish).
Movie title: El Pelotudo
Movie description: An offensive, uneven comedy that nevertheless offers a weird good time.
Date published: 2014-06-12
Director(s): Raymond Hernández Jr.
Actor(s): Michel Gurfi, José Guillermo Cortines, Felix Tejeda, Dalisa Joy, Irvin Alberti, Fausto Rojas, Laura García Godoy, Gilberto Reyes, Diego Vicos, Johnnie Mercedes, Amaury Pérez, Yelitza Lora, Adalgisa Pantaleón, Daniel Díaz-Alejo, Ivan Camilo, Héctor Anibal
Genre: Comedy, Drama