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John Mulhern

by: John Mulhern
April 13th, 2011

Rating: 4.5/5

Writers: Jack Zagha Kababie, Enrique Chmelnik
Director: Jack Zagha Kababie
Cast: Carlos Alberto Orozco, Monica Bejarano, Justo Martinez

Sometimes going into a movie not knowing what to expect can be the best way to do it. Even going in with a basic idea of the plot but no clue as to what the film will be like tonally can intensify your overall opinion about the film. That was certainly the case for the Mexican film GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD, a film about a man whose terrible outcomes turn into our comedic pleasures.

Angel (Carlos Alberto Orozco) can't catch a break. It all starts when he loses his job, in this economic climate many business are suffering cutbacks and, according to his boss, they should blame the Chinese. As if things couldn't get any worse, his personal life is also falling apart. He can't even free his pet hamster to the wild, as when he does a cat comes and snatches it up. All he wants is to find a new career, and a place where he feels comfortable. Then, when he least expects it, he finds that place of belonging - after he accidentally mugs a man. He had inadvertently joined a small crime ring, one with a heart. While robbing a bus that they didn't realize had already been robbed that day, they leave the money with a young boy on the bus whose school supplies had been stolen. Together they try to find their ticket to riches, and maybe have a good time while doing it.

One of the things that caught me off-guard about GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD is just how funny the film is. The first three-quarters of the film are very laugh-per-minute heavy, throwing every amount of pity it can into Angel's life. Most of the humor is very ridiculous, making jokes that might otherwise not be classy quite good. From ridiculous slapstick moments, to brilliant quotes like "money, like diarrhea, causes problems," had me in stitches from start to finish.

The score plays along with the film, helping it keep its airy, comedic feeling. The soundtrack is so incredibly upbeat, much like Angel's demeanor despite this awful time he is having. The score, like any good score should, certainly is a character of its own and just as important as what's happening on screen. They keep this up through the entire film, and there isn't a weak note in there.

Every single actor in this film brings something very enduring to their character. Whether it is the dim-witted cronies of their crime ring or their sympathetic boss, each one has so much personality and is special in their own way. They even have a running gag throughout the film about a telenovela starring a dreamy male lead, when our characters meet the star in real life, it leads to one of the most absurd scenes of the whole film. The care that is put into even the smallest role is pretty astounding.

It's really easy to follow Carlos Alberto Orozco as our lead Angel, as he brings so many sides to the character. You feel his ache and his pain amongst his terrible conditions, and even when he makes terrible mistakes you still want to follow him. He is kind of like that friend that you can only hope to have, because there's no doubt that he will help you out in a bind even at his own expense. It makes his character so incredibly likable.

Most of the last act doesn't really hold up to the rest of the film, ditching the slapstick style of comedy for something a little more serious. It is still quite funny, but it didn't have that same style and sense of humor. It turned into a slow build up to the final conclusion point, where it redeems itself and finishes off as the movie it started off as. It isn't something devastating to the film in any sense, just a noticeable drop in laughs-per-minute.

The film is subtitled, so if you aren't a fan of them then you won't like this film. That is the only reason that comes to mind as why you shouldn't see this film, because it is very good. Its hilarious sense of humor, likable characters, and overall airiness makes it one of the most memorable films showing at the Dallas International Film Festival. I can say this with complete certainty. If you get an opportunity to see this film, you should. GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD shows that one man's misfortune, is another man's entertainment.

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