Live action and animation are combined in this frenetic, often charming Italian slapstick comedy, an innocent fable for adults about a man turning into a cartoon.
Shy to the point of paralysis, especially with women, Maurizio (Maurizio Nichetti) busies himself collecting silly sound effects, which he uses in his job of dubbing old cartoons. His partner is his completely extroverted older brother Patrizio (Patrizio Roversi), who, in his half of the
business, gets to dub the sighing and moaning of softcore porn features. One day Maurizio slams into and is rebuffed by Martina (Angela Finocchiaro), a professional role-play actress who helps her customers live out their fantasies: the Architect Twins (Luigi and Mario Gravier) watch her shower
and a chef (Massimo Sarchielli) decorates her nude body like a pastry; she plays nursemaid to a professor (Remo Remotti), whom she dresses and bottle-feeds like an infant, and arranges different "deaths" for a married pair of masochists (Osvaldo Salvi, Lidia Biondi).
Some time later, Maurizio, who has fallen instantly in love with Martina, sees her being attacked and intervenes. But she's actually working for one of her clients (Mario Pardi), who beats him up. Pursuing Martina, he bungles his way into other fantasy scenarios, and the customers like him so
much that they urge Martina to incorporate Maurizio into regular duty. Meanwhile, at work, Maurizio has accidentally stepped between the projector and the screen, and a tiny animated turtle escapes and slips into his pocket, followed later by a pair of birds. On a first-date dinner with Martina,
her friend Loredana (Mariella Valentini), and Patrizio, Maurizio discovers that his hands have been replaced by animated yellow gloves, and soon the process is complete: Maurizio has become a totally cartoon character. He tries to hide the fact from Martina, who's slowly falling for him, but after
a few days of evading her, he finally confesses. To his complete surprise, Martina is delighted--each has found his/her perfect mate, and the film ends with them making love in bed, while Maurizio proclaims, "It takes guts to make love to a real woman!"
The idea of merging live action and animation, although it found resounding popular success in 1988's WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, is nothing new, going back to Max Fleischer's OUT OF THE INKWELL and KOKO THE CLOWN pictures of the 1920s. The quality of VOLERE's animation (by co-director Guido
Manuli) falls somewhere between these two eras and styles and is quite amusing and imaginative, particularly the uncontrollably frisky, yellow Mickey Mouse gloves. In the funniest sequence, in order to hide from Martina, who is searching his apartment, Maurizio spread-eagles himself flat against a
poster of Leonardo's "Ages of Man," with only his dangling member a threat to, well, exposure.
And that leads directly to VOLERE's interesting theme: that Maurizio as a cartoon is a better man than he was when he was human, at least Martina's eyes; she is understandably frustrated with her life and apparent choice of men, who are neatly satirized by her range of male clientele, just as
women are for Maurizio by the sexy but hands-off porn-film dubbers. The idea recalls Ann Magnuson's finding her perfect man/mate in a robot in the 1987 MAKING MR. RIGHT or, for that matter, Dustin Hoffman finding he's a better man when he's masquerading as a woman in 1982's TOOTSIE.
Maurizio Nichetti, who co-wrote and co-directed VOLERE, started his career writing scripts, including the very good ALLEGRO NON TROPPO (1976), for animator Bruno Bozetto--which is where he met collaborator Manuli--and has worked as writer, director, and actor in television and films. He first
came to attention in the US with his 1988 THE ICICLE THIEF, an homage/satire (Italian neo-realism meets the TV commercial) of De Sica's classic THE BICYCLE THIEF. As an actor, he adopts a persona halfway between Buster Keaton and 1970s Woody Allen. Immensely popular in Italy, although a bit of an
acquired taste here, he's a fairly limited performer, and his slapstick routines are mostly derivative and only occasionally deftly staged. He is mirrored by his co-star Finocchiaro, whose face-torturing mugging grows a bit tiresome.
VOLERE VOLARE, which played successfully in Italy and traveled the festival route in 1991, is lively despite its slight and not very cohesive story line. Once the animation takes over, VOLERE VOLARE ("I want to fly") is mostly a delight. The technical merging of live action and animation, while
lacking ROGER RABBIT's flawless--and expensive--expertise, is more than adequate; the film is well photographed by Mario Battistoni and features an excellent score by the veteran jazzman and film composer Manuel De Sica (son of Vittorio). Nichetti's wife Maria Pia Angelina designed the engaging
sets and costumes.
(Extensive nudity, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: Live action and animation are combined in this frenetic, often charming Italian slapstick comedy, an innocent fable for adults about a man turning into a cartoon. Shy to the point of paralysis, especially with women, Maurizio (Maurizio Nichetti) busies… (more)