“Yucatán” is a colorful, cute Spanish con artist comedy set on a cruise ship. But like even the most entertaining cruise vacations, it is stuffed with long, dull passages in between destinations.
Overly complex, and layered with musical production numbers that pad its length, its effect is not unlike devoting too much time to the buffet. “Bloated” comes to mind.
Roberto Clayderman (Rodrigo De la Serna) is the silky-smooth — almost oily lounge — pianist and MC for the entertainment on board the Sovereign, a liner based in Barcelona. He and his lady love, the singer Veronica (Stephanie Cayo) have it pretty good, mostly because he’s enlisted a big chunk of the crew in his schemes to rook the wealthier guests out of cash via a variety of hustles.
Veronica’s in on it, with a role to play in their elaborate “wholesale diamonds” scam, staged at their first port-of-call, Casablanca.
But there’s another hustler on board for this trip. Lucas (Luis Tosar) has broken the covenant — “I work the Atlantic, you stick to the Mediterranean”). He’s snuck on board, play-acting worry and grief, swapping luggage, and busting in on a stage show for a little ukulele crooning.
The movie is about their trip, to Casablanca, Tenerife, to Recife, Brazil and ending in…you guessed it, “Yucatán.”
Roberto will compete with Lucas for Veronica, each trying to foil the other’s con jobs along the way, both of them conspiring — separately — to separate the elderly baker (Joan Pera) from his hovering, gullible and greedy family, and him from his money.
Antonio the baker just won the Spanish lottery.
Co-writer/director Daniel Monzón (“The Biggest Robbery Never Told”) has conjured up a comedy of lush musical production numbers and wacky, over-the-top hustles. These two crooks seem capable of most everything — even tossing somebody overboard (not fatally) when the need arises.
The situations, threats and cons can be amusing. Sometimes. But the dialogue? Not so much.
A couple of helpless tourists fear public displays of sexuality in Casablanca — “Do you want them to STONE us?” That’s it. That’s the sole funny line. Yeah.
The picture never has much comic edge, and goes soft altogether in the later acts.
The Argentine De la Cerna (“The Motorcycle Diaries”) gets the dapper and devilish thing right, and the rough-hewn Tosar (“To Steal from a Thief”) suggests menace far beyond anything his character is actually capable of. Well, hijacking a tour bus on Tenerife is pretty “out there.”
Nobody really charms us, the amusing bits aren’t THAT amusing (homophobic gags and lines), only the Big Cons, the Long Game and the Longer Game laid out here have any hope of letting “Yucatán” leave you with a smile.
MPAA Rating: TV-MA, violence, drinking, scatological humor
Cast: Luis Tosar, Rodrigo De la Serna, Stephanie Cayo, Joan Pera, Alicia Fernández, Gloria Muñoz, Txell Aixendri, Lupe Cartié Roda
Credits: Directed by Daniel Monzón, script by Jorge Guerricaechevarría and Daniel Monzón, A Netflix release.
Running time: 2:11