In one scene in the Colombian farce “Loving is Losing (El que se Enamora Pierde)” a misbehavior-prone masseuse (Carolina Sarmiento), prone to drugging her clients so she can goof off instead of actually giving massages, is seen watching a telenovela– one of those over-the-top soap operas Latin America is famous for.
And there’s no difference between the vampy soap and the movie that inserts this moment of a character watching the vampy soap in. None.
“Loving is Losing” is what happens when you pitch your comedy at that shrieking, eye-rolling, every gesture, reaction and burst of dialogue at the level of “La Cage aux Folles” — the gayer, campier French original.
That makes for a tedious and tiresome traipse through romance — Colombian style — where the men are cheating heels and the women desperate for a man, even one nicknamed “Pollywog.”
It’s a leering, loopy bust of a comedy, barely a laugh in it. Diaper gags, sex-play jokes, a practical joker OB-GYN, with singer and soccer star cameos because, “Why not?”
It’s kind of terrible, in its own terrible way.
A not-entirely-pointless prologue shows a cruel prank that a lovelorn little boy had played on him at a kids’ birthday party decades ago. Nico became “Nico the Dog Licker” (in Spanish, with English subtitles) when the girl he adored switched places with a dog for an eyes-closed smooch.
And shutterbug Erika was there to document it and seal his fate.
Decades later, Erika (Liss Pereira) pregnant — in love with a philandering plastic surgeon. She’s still a photographer. But so is Nico (Ricardo Quevedo), and he’s a lot more successful. He had to change his name and all — because of the widespread knowledge of his nickname, but he’s still out there, dating and dumping models.
Who cares if he’s bald and a bit doughy? And if his new nickname is “pollywog?”
His manager Camilo (Iván Marín) is angling to land this Charro/Shakira–vavavoom singer Alaska (Linda Baldrich) as a client, which entails lengthy-kinky Skype auditions for her pervy Dad (Bruno Díaz).
But meeting Erika’s three-kids/just-dumped BFF Clemencia (Lorna Cepeda) changes his life.
And even though Nico wants to keep his secret from Erika and punish her for her long-ago crimes, he’s ready to give up models to tumble for this once-cruel pregnant lady who lies to him about her fiance. “He died…facial syphilis!” And she uh, buried him in the yard!
The OB-GYN uses puppets to “fake” childbirth, the advertising exec with the crazy wandering eye (María Cecilia Botero) is a special effect (let’s hope) in her own league.
But the rest? What plays in Colombia loses too much in translation.
MPAA Rating: TV-14
Cast: Liss Pereira, Ricardo Quevedo, Lorna Cepeda, Linda Baldrich, Iván Marín, Carolina Sarmiento and Bruno Díaz
Credits: Written and directed by Fernando Ayllón. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:30