The Monster (Il Mostro) (1994)
May 28, 2021 11:07 PM - Subscribe

There's a killer in Italy, and everyone thinks it's the horny bumbling loser Loris (writer/director Roberto Benigni). In the hope of provoking him to another crime (?), the policewoman (Nicoletta Braschi) must go undercover.

Some critics have praised Italian superstar Roberto Benigni as a comic genius with a gift for physical comedy rivaling that of America's great silent film stars. Others, with a passion equal to that of his admirers, have written him off as little more than an abrasive moron. Well, after seeing this hilarious effort, I can say with absolute certainty that Benigni is both a comic genius and an abrasive moron.
-- Joey O'Bryan, Austin Chronicle, 1996

Benigni may also be the worst male-chauvinist moviemaker at work today, considering all the women-as-sex-object images here (which also perpetuate a stereotype about Italian men).
For some reason, in Benigni's homeland, this movie was a monster hit — the biggest moneymaker in Italian movie history.

"The Monster" is not rated but would get an R for violence, sexual innuendo, profanity, vulgarity and drug abuse (the doctor giving his wife all sorts of pills and potions to calm her down).
-- Chris Hicks, Deseret News 1996
Currently available on Kanopy.
posted by fleacircus (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can’t imagine Chris Hicks knows much about Italian cinema of the late 20th century if he really things Benigni is as bad as it gets.

It’s especially rich considering the well-known rumor that he refused to replace his wife with younger actresses when she got ‘too old’ to play roles as his romantic interest (she is 8 years younger than him).
posted by bq at 8:55 PM on May 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

I saw this when it came out. I remember thinking it was incredibly silly but also hilarious. The most hilarious thing I've ever seen at the cinema house, however, is Benigni's taxi driver 'confession' in Jim Jarmusch's Night on Earth. Laugh so hard I couldn't breathe hilarious.
posted by bertran at 12:41 AM on May 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think my favorite part of this movie is when the crowd chases Loris up the scaffolding to the apartment, and then when Loris escapes they stand arrayed over the entire area of it, all standing out watching him go.

However there's a hundred funny things throughout this, and I think anyone who finds Airplane! funny would find this really funny as well.
posted by fleacircus at 5:14 AM on May 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

Night on Earth may be the number one movie I need to rewatch. I saw it with my mom in a rinks-dinky foreign movie theater in Florence that was too cheap to pay for subtitles. The first part is in English - no problem. The second part was Benigni in Rome - we both spoke Italian pretty well by then, no problem. Also, hilarious. The third part is set is Paris. Both of us had had plenty of French lessons over the years so we were able to kind of follow along - ok, this guys from this part of Africa and these other guys are from another part of Africa - got it. Then the fourth part open. It’s set in Helsinki. Everyone is speaking Finnish. It’s a bunch of men in huge parkas talking to each other in dimly lit apartment hallways. We’re done. We snuck out.

I don’t think it’s possible to really convey how hilarious Benigni is to a non-Italian speaking audience. I don’t remember specifically doing so but I wouldn’t be surprised if I had peed my pants watching him at some point. The only analogy I can make is Robin Williams, but young Robin Williams doing stand-up and coked off his mind. Is Benigni generally coked off his mind? I don’t know! I was really too young to pick up the signs when I was in Italy. But there’s no gossip about him and drugs that I can find. He seems strangely wholesome for someone who was banned from Italian tv for being too profane for a decade. Literally.
posted by bq at 9:18 AM on May 31, 2021 [2 favorites]

Night on Earth may be the number one movie I need to rewatch
Fans of Gus Fring really have to see Esposito in the New York segment, also.
posted by rongorongo at 9:29 AM on June 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

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