Monday, January 24, 2011

Matando Cabos (Killing Cabos) (2004)

This uneven caper film borrows heavily from Quentin Tarantino with some Seinfeldian moments but doesn’t quite pull it off. Feels and plays like an early-in-movie-making-career effort.

matando-cabosJaque’s (Tony Dalton) boss Oscar Cabos (Pedro Armendáriz Jr.) is also his girlfriend’s father. He recently beat up Jaque after finding him in bed with his daughter, Paulina (Ana Claudia Talancón). Today, Jaque has been called to Cabos’s office. He finds himself locked in as Cabos comes at him with a nine iron ready to pummel him, when an unexpected twist saves him…for the moment.

(Spoiler Alert: Read at Your Own Risk!)

Jaque enlists the help of his bosom buddy Mudo (Kristoff—the Spanish speaking Ethan Hawke) to help him deal with Cabos’s body. Mudo calls Ruben, aka “Mascarita” (the mask) (Joaquín Cosio), a has-been wrestler with a short fuse when called by his wrestling name. Ruben is accompanied by his side-kick, Tony, aka “El Canibal” (the cannibal) (Silverio Palacios). Tony is the small guy (who might be a cannibal) to Ruben’s giant.

Jaque/Mudo/Ruben/Tony are trying to get rid of Cabos’s body before he wakes up in the trunk of Jaque’s car but they continue being sidetracked. On the same side of town, Botcha (Raúl Méndez) and Nico (Gustavo Sánchez Parra) are taking care of an old debt with the help of Lula (Rocío Verdejo), Paulina’s best friend. Botcha/Nico/Lula end up with the wrong body. When forced to take desperate measures, their path crosses with Jaque/Mudo/Ruben/Tony and the situations become more complicated for everyone. For good measure, you also get a cross-eyed bus driver with emotional scars, an obnoxious parrot who alerts the building when the neighbors are home and a unwitting maid dealing with harassing phone calls.

Some gags, dark humor, extreme beatings. Matando Cabos goes too far in trying to shock and be funny. The acting is bland with a few of them barely showing up. There’s too little known about most of the characters—especially Mudo and Jaque. Connections between characters are left hanging in an unsatisfying manner. For example, how are Mudo and Mascarita acquainted? The subtitles refer to Oscar Cabos as Jaque’s father-in-law despite the fact Jaque and Paulina are dating/not married (this may be culturally common, but it causes logistical confusion, as you will see if you watch). How did Botcha manage to find Nico? What is the deal w/ Paulina and Lula?

All that said, the dialogue contains quick-wit, the sets are colorful and festive and I didn’t once think about turning off Matando Cabos.

Director: Alejandro Lozano

Country: Mexico

Genre: Dark comedy

Run time:  93 minutes

Scale: 3

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