Interview enough actors or read enough actors’ autobiographies and you’ll run across what has to be their most common pet peeve.
It’s a stage direction that everybody who steps onto a set and into the frame seems to hate.
“OK, let’s do it again. But FASTER.”
Hate it they might, but there probably isn’t a more important edict in screen comedy. By and large, faster is funnier. Slow burns and deadpan have their place, but comedy that’s in your face and quick on the draw has a better shot at delivering laughs.
“Heart Parade” is a pokey Polish rom-com about finding love amongst the wiener dogs of Krakow. It’s set up for “fish-out-of-water” jokes, contrasting “What’s your hurry?” Krakow with “Go go go we’ve got deadlines” Warsaw. There’s not enough here that’s funny, and what is here passes by like, well, a dachshund parade.
Anna Próchniak of “Bad Day for the Cut” and “The Innocents” stars as Magda, a go-getter TV producer and top aide to Arena TV’s Director of Programming, Zula (Monika Krzywkowska). Magda shares a penthouse apartment with star TV presenter Anatol (Wasyl Wasylik) and has their lives planned out well into the future.
Promotion to Zula’s job, marriage and “eighteen months from” that date, babies.
But Magda’s got a mild case of cynophobia. She has nightmares about dogs. And it’s driven by, we figure, her boss’s doted-on dachshund, Todd. Magda has to walk him, cater to him and care for him when the boss is distracted.
And like many a dachshund, Todd is a stinker. On the day her promotion is announced, Madga messes up and the dog gets into something he shouldn’t and it’s “You’re FIRED.” No promotion for you!
She can’t even pack up her desk without catching opportunistic Anatol hooking up with another pretty colleague.
“Heart Parade” is about Madga’s plan to get back in the game. There’s this famous dachshund parade/”trial” over in Krakow that she already knows a lot about, thanks to Todd. Funny thing about it, they don’t want any publicity.
Somehow, there’s a media blackout about a dachshund parade. Is somebody worried the country will OD on “cute?” That seems nuts, but Poland can be…different.
Hyper-organized Magda will infiltrate the secret organization that runs this event, befriend the leaders and get a story her ex-employer will love.
“Heart Parade” is a romantic comedy, so here’s hunky sculptor and tombstone carver Krzysztof (Michal Czernecki). as a possible love interest. Magda rents a room from him, which should make love blossom, right?
Except neither he nor his quirky co-leaders of the Dachshund Day Afternoon is all that keen on taking in the fish-out-of-Warsaw stranger.
There’s a neighbor (Katarzyna Zielinska) who has her eye on Krzysztof and is willing to sabotage anyone who gets in her way.
Krzysztof is widowed, with a little boy, Karol (Iwo Rajski). Karol has this dog he’d love to be able to train to get him into the wiener trials. If only somebody had the time to help him.
And there’s an entire bureaucracy of “My hands are tied” slow-walking Krakow-pokes to overcome.
So we have a cute couple, the obstacles to their romance and a backdrop of adorable little dogs. Why doesn’t “Heart Parade” work?
The filmmakers can’t manage a single decent sight gag for the dogs, not one thing. Hell, I’d have settled for a couple of recycled gags from Disney’s “The Ugly Dachshund.” I guess they’ve never seen that 1966 classic, and they certainly didn’t hire trained dogs who could manage that.
The jokes are of the “You’re not from around here?” and “Why the big hurry? Like a cup of tea?” variety.
There’s no real spark between the leads, although Próchniak pairs up nicely — and “maternally” — with the kid.
Mainly, it’s a question of pace. This 107 minute romp never romps. Even adjusting the speed (it’s in your Netflix screen controls) doesn’t help. Even playing back the movie faster can’t get it moving.
This dog never manages much more than a waddle.
Cast: Anna Próchniak, Michal Czernecki, Iwo Rajski,
Monika Krzywkowska, Katarzyna Zielinska and Wasyl Wasylik
Credits: Directed by Filip Zylber, scripted by Wiktor Piatkowski, Natalia Matuszek and Marianna Pochron. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:45