Under Review: “Cantinflas”


“Cantinflas” follows comedian Mario Moreno from obscurity to stardom.

Marisa Murillo, Photographer

Acknowledging a diverse audience by alternating English and Spanish in speech and subtitles, “Cantinflas” tells the story of Mario Moreno, a comedian widely regarded as the Charlie Chaplin of Mexico.

Written and directed by Sebastián del Amo, the film follows Mario Moreno, or Cantiflas, who is played by Óscar Jaenada. Jaenada is best known for his role in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”

“Cantinflas” follows Mario Moreno from his humble beginnings as a performer in a Mexico City tent to his acceptance of a Golden Globe for his performance in “Around the World in 80 Days.” Moreno’s initial attempts to become a boxer and a bullfighter are humorous and awkward, leading him to realize that he can make people laugh. Because Moreno prefers improvisation to memorizing scripts, Cantinflas’s humor is based largely on Mario Moreno’s staying true to himself.

Moreno grows from an eager aspiring actor to a man familiar with the ways of Hollywood. He is more knowledgeable about the business aspects of being a performing artist than Mike Todd (Michael Imperioli), producer of “Around the World in 80 Days,” anticipates.

Many laughs were either lost or altered in the translation to English, but the essence of Moreno’s style is effectively captured in del Amo’s script. Balancing blend and contrast between Mario Moreno and his onstage persona Cantinflas, Jaenada embodies the duality of the actor’s true identity and his role overflowing into his personal life. Almost indistinguishable from the comedic star, he accurately embodies several well-known and beloved facets of Moreno’s personality.

“Cantinflas” exposes Moreno’s flaws, such as his pride and his infidelity to his wife, and juxtaposes them with his steadfast dedication to charity and labor politics. By emphasizing Moreno’s personal qualities, del Amo succeeds in his attempt to humanize the comedian. Giving life to the man behind the character is essentially what makes this film a hit among a broad audience. As Cantinflas said in his famous catchphrase, “Ahí está el detalle”–that’s the point.

Cantinflas runs 102 minutes and is rated PG for thematic elements, language, smoking, and some suggestive material.