So here I was, eye-strained from all the eye-rolling at the pretty and utterly vapid Italian beach romance “Under the Riccione Sun,” ready to UNLOAD on it with this opening.
“If you missed out on how dry and empty American teen sex comedies could be in the ’80s, fear not. Italy is reviving them. ‘Under the Riccione Sun’ is proof.”
And then some pop star giving a concert in the finale of the film, set on the Daytona Beach of the Italian Riviera (apparently), and he sings about his “melancholy,” in Italian with English subtitles.
“My melancholy,” he croons, “is YOUR fault. And the fault of some ’80s movie.”
Nothing like being all set to ridicule a retro rom-com, its cheesy synth-pop music, diversity-impaired cast and 20ish college-kids raining descriptive, coitus come-on F-bombs on each other only to see them end up in these chaste, PG “hook-ups,” and then realizing, “Oh, they’re IN on it! They’re doing this on PURPOSE!”
The electronic tunes, the almost entirely tattoo-free teens and 20somethings (VERY ’80s), girls so skinny you want to raid the Girl Scout sales booth and walk the beach shouting, “Posso offrirti un biscotto” (May I offer you (poor emaciated kids) a COOKIE?), it’s exasperating, even for the eye candy it’s sort of meant to be.
I wonder, is there really an Italian director who goes by “Younuts?” Because I guess “Deeznuts” and “Numbnuts” were too jargonish?
The formula — lots of young people descend on the beach town for sand, sun and sin. More than a few of the guys (It’s phallo-centric, just like the ’80s.) are virgins, and can’t stop talking about the p-word and how they want the f-word to fill their nights.
Marco (Lorenzo Zurzolo) has even shown up with his mother (Isabella Ferrari). He’s blind, and she’s over-protective. Shocking. Lucky for him, gauche, sex-obsessed and delusional “ladies’ man” Furio (Davide Calgaro) takes him under his wing.
Ciro (Cristiano Caccamo) showed up with dreams of playing his guitar and finding fame at the “IDOL” auditions. No luck. But the moment he hits the beach and takes off his shirt, he’s offered a lifeguard job. Because he looks the part.
“I forgot to ask, can you SWIM?”
He has a girlfriend back home, and runs into a lifelong friend (Claudia Tranchese) who takes it on herself to “keep an eye” on him. So. No extracurricular “fun” allowed. Not that he’s looking for it, even when flirty-floozy Mara (Giulia Schiavo) comes on strong to get him on her beach volleyball team.
Marco (Saul Nanni) pines for the just-broke-up-and-obsessed-with-her-ex Guenda (Fotinì Peluso). He needs the help of his stoner-roomie (Matteo Oscar Giuggioli) and their ex-lifeguard/womanizer landlord (Andrea Roncato) to get out of Guenda’s “friend zone.”
There’s little in the line of scenery, unless you count stick-thin Italian ingenues — which apparently, the filmmakers do count…as scenery.
Nobody makes much of an impression, with the only funny bits coming from the 50ish mother (Ferrari) getting insulted and brushed-off by the bouncer (Luca Ward) who won’t let her into a beach rave because she’s his age — “too old.” Their back and forth about her “annoying” clinginess and need to “take care of “her son is the only conversation with any life to it.
It’s not bad enough to hate, and the worst you can say about “Riccione” is that it’s just a big tease. No sights, no flavor for the place, not quite sexual enough to be “sexy,” not the least bit amusing.
Which reminded me of lots of Hollywood ’80s on-the-make/on-the-beach comedies, all of them bad — “Casual Sex,” “Hard Bodies,”” “Spring Break.”
Which, in turn, begs the question — Who on Earth would want to revisit, emulate and revive these? Other than some director who goes by Younuts?
MPAA Rating: TV:MA, skin, innuendo, lots of profanity
Cast: Cristiano Caccamo, Claudia Tranchese, Isabella Ferrari, Lorenzo Zurzolo, Ludovica Martino, Cristiano Caccamo
Credits: Directed by Younuts, script by Caterina Salvadori, Enrico Vanina, Ciro Zecca, A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:42