Monday, August 9, 2010

I'm With the Hippopotamus

Io sto con gli ippopotami; comedy, Italy/ South Africa, 1979; D: Italo Zingarelli, S: Terence Hill, Bud Spencer, Joe Bugner, May Dlamini

Africa. Tom "Hippopotamus" drives tourists and hunters in his jeep, showing them African animals. But his cousin Slim "Crocodile" strongly objects to this kind of money making, since he is an avid animal lover and wants to protect them from hunting. When they meet again at Mama Leone's house, they agree to make a safari where no animals will be hurt. But then they also hear that tycoon Ormond, a former boxing champion, is evicting locals and plans to cage numerous animals to deport them to a zoo in the cold Ontario. They free the animals on his ship and beat him and his henchmen.

Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, the "Italian Lauren & Hardy with fists", filmed 17 films together, and even though the harsher critics criticized most of them, one still has to admit that after all this time their fist fighting with bad guys can still simply ignite a good chuckle. There is no need to analyze that too much - if Chaplin and Keaton managed to awaken sympathy of the viewers with childish humor, so can they. Their adventure comedy filmed in exotic South Africa that engages in a noble message, in animal rights, "I'm For the Hippopotamus" is arguably their last good contribution to their opus, equipped with good and dynamic gags as well as a good pace, though it loses a lot of power in the last third when the story slowly starts "walking in circles". It's a simple and light fun, with at least two jokes that are hilarious: when Spencer's character Tom, nicknamed "Hippopotamus", arrives at a booth, some arrogant White guys throw a knife at the painting inside it, even though the African clerk begs them to stop because it's holly to him. But they don't listen and throw another knife - but it gets stopped because Tom raised a wooden board that captured it half way through. In another, Ormond's henchmen are trying to evict Hill's Slim. One guy tells him: "The law says so" and raises a gun towards him. Slim just remains motionless, looking at him in the eyes. And he looks at him. They both stare at each other for a hilariously long time, as in a contest. Slim then smiles slowly, which is so contagious that the bad guys smiles too. But then Slim returns to his serious facial expression, and the bad guy does the same. Slim then laughs and the bad guy does the same, until Slim knocks him off and throws his gun in the water, saying: "Well, now the law is in the water".


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