Biopic Cantinflas Lacks All the Irreverence of the Man

Biopic <I>Cantinflas</I> Lacks All the Irreverence of the Man
Photo by Angel Gonzalez - © 2014 - Pantelion Films
Óscar Jaenada and Luis Gerardo Méndez

While Cantinflas the man was famous for irreverent, improvisatory comedy, Cantinflas the film is an uncritical, stiff biopic. The only thing memorable about the film’s depiction of Mexican movie star Mario "Cantinflas" Moreno’s rise to mega-popularity is its bifurcated plot. Cantinflas begins in 1955 with the story of would-be Hollywood producer Michael Todd (Michael Imperioli) and his struggle to bankroll an adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days.

Michael’s search for international stars leads to a series of decades-spanning flashbacks revealing how young Moreno (Óscar Jaenada) transformed into the performer who saved Todd’s film. Todd’s half of Cantinflas is consistently unbearable, since so much of it relies on viewers’ ingrained hatred of Maurice (J.C. Montes-Roldan), Michael’s cartoonishly haughty, effete (read: French) business partner. But Jaenada is pleasant enough to salvage the first half of Moreno’s story, which focuses on his many triumphs over know-nothing detractors, like rival Manuel Medel (Esteban Soberanes).

Sadly, Jaenada’s not strong enough to carry Cantinflas once Moreno is famous — the film considers the star’s accomplishments self-evident. He’s treated like a saint for demanding a stronger actors’ union, but we never learn why he cares about the union, outside of a screaming match with a corrupt politician. Worse still, Moreno’s instantly forgiven for cheating on wife Valentina (Ilse Salas) even after he bathetically stands outside during a thunderstorm and cries upon learning she’s infertile.

Location Info


Regal Union Square Stadium 14

850 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: Union Square

AMC Loews 34th Street 14‎

312 W. 34th St.
New York, NY 10001

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: Chelsea

AMC Empire 25

234 W. 42nd St.
New York, NY 10036

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: West 40s


Directed by Sebastian del Amo
Now playing
Regal Union Square

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By ignoring Moreno’s wise-ass charms, and over-praising his appeal as an irrepressible underdog, Cantinflas wears viewers down with earnest hero worship.

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Recreating Cantinflas' remarkable persona as a comedian, politically active individual and husband is a daunting challenge.  The star of this highly entertaining tribute to the Charlie Chaplin of Mexico rises to the challenge and the screenwriter does an admirable job of weaving a complex individual's life together and making him come alive on screen.  I felt like I was watching Cantinflas again!  I loved this film.  To throw rotten tomatoes at it is disingenuous as there's so many sorry films made today.  I disagree with the critic.


vmariposa. Jaenada's characterization of Cantinflas is incredibly good, short of genius. I wonder how Mexicans allowed a Spaniard to play one of their most recognizable icons, but that is a different posting all together. I do agree with the critic that the story fell short, flat on its face if you ask me. I suspect the family had contractual rights to final approval, and sanitized it in an effort to protect the image of Mario Moreno. That's probably why there are some pieces missing, mostly the controversial side of Moreno, which would have added more dramatic texture to the film. I went in with high expectations and anticipation, but I came out of the theater fairly disappointed. One thing is to feel like we are watching Cantinflas again, and I did, but the story is what did nothing for me, and to me, that's where the film flopped. The bottom line is that we go to the movies to watch stories, and not just characters on the screen. A missed opportunity by Sebastian Vega del Amo.


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