The Argentine farce “The Lulu Club,” titled “Papa’ al Rescate (Dad to the Rescue)” in South America, is a road trip farce that kind of gives up on the farce at the midway point. Because nothing actually funny has happened or been said up to that moment.
So cast and crew go for sentimental, safer ground in a story about a gay father racing across the Andes to take custody of an eight-year old whose mother he impregnated nine years ago.
Mom died. Sad. Dad is about to become half of the first same sex marriage in Chile. Aww. And his pals, his housemates, pile into an ancient, oddly-modified Chevy Nova to accompany on this sentmental journey.
Every now and then, some mishap — with the car (They didn’t call it “No va” in Spanish for a reason.), with a couple of “Jesus is an alien and the rapture will be an alien abduction” cultists, with the border authorities — threatens to almost turn amusing.
And the finale involves a harried chase, a run for the border. Those are worth a giggle. Usually.
But no, not this time, muchachos. No hay risas.
Road pictures are an internationally foolproof genre for comedy and romance or action and thrills. The possibilities of mishaps, madcap chases and giggles abound.
Benjamín Vicuña plays Nico, the father-who-was-never-there for little Lulu. Now it is his time, impending, nationally significant marriage or no. So perpetual screwup Fernando (Fernando Larraín), father-estranged-from-his-teen-daughter Raimundo (Jorge Zabaleta) and dopey Mama’s boy Chico (Rodrigo Muñoz) sign on for the trip.
As there’s no room in this unsafe, beater car, let’s assume Nico is planning on flying Lulu home. Maybe the screenwriters assumed that. Perhaps.
The plot’s complications begin with the opening shot, as we’re meant to wonder how this quartet wound up in the high Andean desert in their underwear — one of them colored Hulk-green — with just a vintage Chevy bumper in their possession as they’re shot at.
The estranged Chilean daughter is crossing the border with a friend to march in a women’s rights/abortion rights march in Mendoza, the city where Lulu lives and where UFOs have been sighted.
And the nun at the orphanage (Silvina Quintanilla) is dismayed to learn, from the late baby mama’s pal (Laurita Fernández) that the guy rushing to take custody is gay and about to marry his partner.
So yes, there are complications and no, they’re not very funny, not in the hands of director Marcos Carnevale, probably because the script is mirth free. I always jot down funny lines, in Spanish or Ingles, when I’m reviewing comedies (this one is in Spanish with subtitles). No habia ninguno.
I was so bored I spent more time wondering why that Nova had an early ’60s Impala grill than I did about whether this “Lulu Mission” was going to succeed.
Rating: TV-MA, comic violence, profanity, adult situations
Cast: Benjamín Vicuña, Fernando Larraín, Jorge Zabaleta, Rodrigo Muñoz and Laurita Fernández.
Credits: Directed by Marcos Carnevale, scripted by Sebastián Freund and Rodrigo Muñoz. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:42