Mamma was a free spirit, a hippie chick back in the day. That’s why Vincenza grew up without knowing who her dad is.
As she grew up on a commune — Mamma never outgrew her crystal/herbal/spiritual predilections — that’s never been an issue, or much of one. But Vicenza wants to know. And when Mamma takes off on a pilgrimage to India, the sheltered, sweet-spirited teen sets out for answers in “Double Dad,” a teen comedy from Brazil.
As “Who’s your Daddy?” comedies go, this one is a lot more “My Two Dads” than “Mamma Mia!” — sitcom lame. It lacks much in the way of wit or conflict, although being built around a young Brazilian “TV presenter,” it doesn’t lack for smiles. Emotions expressed beyond the exceptionally toothy smile of Maisa Silva (so famous she’s billed as just “Maisa” in the credits)? She’s not there yet.
A photo her Mom (Laila Zaid) hid from her sends the kid packing the moment her mother skips off from the Universa Cosmica (Cosmic Universe) commune deep in the mountains. There’s a picture of Mom all lovey-dovey during Carnival with this fellow, a name — “Paco” — and an old address.
Nothing for it but to take a ten hour bus ride to Rio and check him out.
Paco’s a painter, something Vicenza aspires to be. She doesn’t give herself away. “Classes” she says. She’ll sign up for that. She sketches him (Eduardo Moscovis) in a few quick strokes and he agrees to take her own. But after giving him a couple of hints in that first meeting, she just blurts it out.
“I might be your daughter, Paco,” in Portuguese with English subtitles.
Jumping right into that removes suspense and any tension that might build up over him not knowing and her wanting to tell him. But as this four-screenwriter-script isn’t into the stuff of drama — “conflict” — that’s what we get.
Vicenza ingratiates herself into the creatively-blocked Paco’s life. And she meets a boy from a Carnival group, Naked Amoeba. Cabu (Pedro Ottoni) is bubbly and supportive and seriously into the hippy girl, who fits right in with a Carnival parade corps.
Rummaging through their photo archive (as with Mardis Gras, crews can go back decades, generations), she comes up with another of Mom’s Carnival paramours back in the day. Uh oh. Might wealthy banker Giovanni (Marcelo Médici) be her “real” father?
And might dueling Dads be the conflict this diet cola desperately needs?
A sweet touch here, aside from Vicenza’s tendency to grin and hug at hill, is that neither would-be father freaks out. Both embrace the possibility and take the commune-raised Vicenza hiking, beach walking, to museums and fancy meals.
No paternity suit necessary. But the obvious, a DNA test? Ok. Eventually.
At every point, promising comic directions to take this are lost or abandoned. There’s no commune girl encounters the big city “fish out of water” joke, no edgy rejection from the potential dads, no real obstacles to overcome, nobody to “win over.”
A few scenes with Mom in an ashram (teleconferencing group meditations with the guru, who has moved to LA). are cute, but never quite funny.
Director Cris D’Amato wrings a little heart out of Giovanni’s realization of why Vicenza is here, something the director blows in that first “Dad” encounter with Paco. Médici plays the hell out of that tender, shocking moment.
But aside from that, there’s nothing here but a cute kid finding another cute kid and considering a romance while she waits for that DNA test, or her mother, to come back.
MPA Rating: TV-14, squeaky clean
Cast: Maisa Silva, Eduardo Moscovis, Marcelo Médici, Pedro Otonni and Laila Zaid.
Credits: Directed by Cris D’Amato, script by Marcelo Andrade, Renato Fagundes, João Paulo Horta, Thalita Rebouças. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:43