May 27, 2021

"Road to Love" Colombian Comedy Telenovela with Cute Truckers


When I was researching telenovelas yesterday, I skipped over the Colombian tv series Los BriceƱos, somehow translated The Road to Love, because the icon showed a girl and her boyfriend.  But the boyfriend is cute, and Episode 4 says "Dario pressures Peluche to hook up with Ramona so she will give them jobs."  Why would Peluche need to be pressured, unless he is not into women?  And why would they both get jobs, unless they are a couple?  

Opening: Truckers singing and hugging in pairs and groups.  It looks like they're copying the opening of That 70s Show, with the various groups driving and singing "Not a thing to do  but talk to you....we're all all right!"

Scene 1: It's the National Semi-Truck Finals, and the three Briceno Brothers, Breiner (cute), Dario (scuzzy), and Toronja (responsible), are sure that their truck will win.  Their assistant, Peluche (blond), brings them empanadas.  

Breiner is played by Camilo Amores (top photo), and Toronja by Jose Daniel Cristancho (left).

Their sister Chiqui is wearing short-shorts and getting stared at.  Toronja orders her to put on something more modest.   They argue.  "It's the 21st century!" "I'm a man, and you're a woman!  You have to obey me!"  Whew, sexist!

I think Peluche is gay.  He flirts with all the women, but the brothers say he doesn't mean it.  Plus two earrings.

Meanwhile, Evil Guy plans to repossess the truck, and old guy Armando's wife tries to talk him out of driving in the race: "Let one of the boys do it."

Scene 2:
The brothers disagree with the way Chiqui has decorated the truck: too girly!  She gets a phone call from her boyfriend Samuel (Mario Espitia): "My family can't know about us."  Why not? Is he from a rival trucking company?  Whoops, he has another girlfriend!

Scene 3:  Evil Guy appears to tow the truck away, right before the big race!  "Your dad owes me money.  This was his collateral."  Peluche flirts with him, but it doesn't work.  

Chiqui: "Today's the deadline to pay. We'll win the race and get you your money."

Scene 4:  They drive the truck to the festival, and arrive late.  Dad yells at them.  Rival trucker Florentino drives up, insults them, and makes a sleazy pass at Chiqui. The men all rush to protect her honor.  

Scene 5: While the other competitors pose with hot babes, the Briceno family says the rosary and discusses how much they love each other.  Dad still insists on driving, with Chiqui as his assistant.

The race begins.  I thought it would be cross-country, but it's on a track.  Thousands of spectators.  Is this a real thing in Colombia? Are trucks even designed to go fast?

Final round: the Briceno Doll vs. the Florentino Diablo.  The Bricenos win.  That wasn't very suspenseful.

Uh-oh, Dario puts the prize money on the front seat of the truck, without locking it!  A theft story arc coming up!

Scene 6:  Dad discovers that Chiqui knows how to drive a truck, and turns on her.  Weird -- hasn't he been saying "you're my co-pilot, you're my angel"?  He demands to know which "insolent idiot" taught her.  Peluche the Assistant confesses.  Snarl, snarl, "betraying me!"  

Chiqui: "Dad, I want to be a trucker."

Dad: Sputter, sputter, snarl, snarl. "you are the worst person who ever lived!  You are not my daughter!  I curse the day you were born!  Now go home and cook my dinner!"

Scene 7:
Sputtering with rage, Chiqui and Peluche get into their truck and drive away.  Meanwhile Mom invites Evil Guy and his assistant/wife to dinner at an outdoor restaurant.

When they go off the road, Chiqui and Peluche have an almost romantic moment.  He declares his love, she pretends not to notice.  Uh-oh, I smell a will-they-or-won't-they story arc. 

Chiqui collapses.  Peluche carries her off to get help, leaving the truck (geez, she has a cell phone in her pocket.  Call for an ambulance!) The money box has fallen into the mud, lost.

Scene 8: Driving around looking for them, Dad and two brothers have car trouble.  

Meanwhile, a trucker named Octavio, who may have been in the race earlier, stops to help Peluche and Chiqui.  

Meanwhile, at dinner, Mom reveals that the remaining brother, Toronja (the responsible one), can sing.  He denies it -- too girly?  -- but she insists.  So he sings a love song, and the women at the diner all swoon.  The lunch lady, Mrs. Amalfi, is gazing at him.  I smell another romance plot arc. She says "You should become a professional singer!"  No, I'm a trucker.  Can't you do both?  10-4, good buddy.

Scene 9: Dad and the boys find the abandoned truck.  They notice that the money box is missing, but not that it's lying in the mud beside them.  

Scene 10: Chiqui wakes up in the hospital.  She doesn't remember Peluche's profession of love. Mom and Toronja arrive.  The doctor announces that she fainted due to low blood sugar, but she "and the baby" are fine.  Gasp -- Chiqui is pregnant!

 Lots of cute guys.  No one takes anything off, not even at the beach.

Other Sights: Some exteriors, all coutryside.

Heterosexism: All of the guys make sleazy come-ons or respectful gestures of romantic interest.  I don't think gay people exist.

Pacing: There were so many plot arcs beginning that it was hard to decide what to concentrate on.  

Character Motivations:  Dad has no problem with Chiqui helping him drive the truck, but when she wants to be a driver, he explodes into a thousand pieces of rage.  Pelache keeps saying "Chiqui is like a sister.  She's my sister.  I treat her like a sister." Then suddenly he's in love with her?  

Will I Keep Watching: 65 episodes, and no gay characters?  I don't think so.

May 24, 2021

"Army of the Dead": A Man and a Woman Save the World and Don't Fall in Love

I was zipping through Army of the Dead, a new Netflix zombie comedy, looking for beefcake, when I saw two soldiers hugging.  And a plot synopsis actually used the phrase "buddy bonding."  That's enough gay subtext for me!  I quickly started it from the beginning.

Scene 1: Two army guys are leading a top-secret convoy down a deserted Nevada highway.  Meanwhile, a newly married guy is driving while his wife performs oral sex.  They crash.  Everything explodes, and the "payload" escapes: a zombified muscle man!  Very quick, and impervious to bullets.  The two lead soldiers hug and try to run away, but it kills them.  Darn -- very short gay subtext!

Scene 2:  A Liberace impersonator being campy.  Three topless showgirls have zombified, and attack.  So, semi naked women kill a swishy queen.  There's some definite homophobic symbolism.

General chaos as everyone in Vegas zombifies and attacks everyone else.  Three guys hugging, but I think they were in a wedding party.  A cliche little girl-teddy bear.  An Elvis impersonator.  Nice shots of thousands of zombies overwhelming Las Vegas streets.

We see the "before" pictures of four people who are killing zombies and the infected.  One has a degree in philosophy; another holds a copy of Success magazine.  Will they be central characters? No, they all get eaten.   

 I'm tired of characters being introduced and then killed.  We'd better get some protagonists soon.

Scene 3: A greasy spoon diner.  The tv tells us that the Zombie Wars have ended with massive casualties and Las Vegas walled off.  The next step is to drop a nuclear bomb on the zombie-infested city (didn't they do that in The Stand?). Coincidentally in four days, on the Fourth of July. 

 Muscular cook/Zombie War hero Scott (Dave Bautista, top photo)  is hired by some shady types to retrieve $200 million in gold buried beneath the Strip.  

Scene 4: McCann Quarantine Camp outside Las Vegas, where people who might be infected are detained (COVD symbolism much?).  But it's actually anyone the government doesn't like: immigrants, gay rights advocates, pro-choice advocates.  They are being transferred to Barstow prior to the bombing.  

Kate and Geeta, who may be a romantic couple, discuss slipping into the city, cracking open a few slot machines, and bribing their way out of quarantine.  They are brutalized by a sadistic guard (Theo Rossi, who will become important later).  Guards can do whatever they want.  If you protest, they will take your temperature, claim that it is low, and shoot you.  Wow, paranoia over COVD restrictions!  Next they'll be comparing mask rules to the Holocaust.

Scene 5: Scott the Cook flashes back to having to kill his zombified wife, sister, or mother.  I'm guessing wife, because dead wives are a standard cliche.  

I know how this will turn out.  I'll just fast forward.

One of the team members, Ludwig (Matthias Schweighofer, left), may be gay.  He tells team member Guzman (Raul Castillo), "I love your hair."  They both die.

Tig Notaro plays a butch helicopter pilot who may be a lesbian.  She dies. 

Vanderohe (Omari Hardwicke) is flying in a private plane during the cliffhanger ending, so I guess he's important to the story.  But I couldn't tell by fast-forwarding

Shocking twist: Scott the Cook and Kate Not a Lesbian don't fall in love.  Turns out that Kate is Scott's daughter!  Didn't see that one coming.  (Actually, if you look carefully, you can see Kate coming out of the bedroom while Scott kills his wife/sister/mother).

Beefcake: No.  Some topless girls, though.  Always have to throw in topless girls.

Buddy-Bonding.  I didn't see any, except in the first scene with the two soldiers who get eaten.

Comedy:  This is advertised as a comedy, but I didn't get the humor.  There are a lot of long, drawn-out "I've been bitten...I'm going to die..." scenes.

Everybody Dies: Almost.  Only one member of the team survives.

My Grade: Can't really judge without watching the whole thing, but from the Liberace eaten, the topless girls, the lack of buddy-bonding, and almost everybody dying, D.  

May 23, 2021

"Move to Heaven": No One Really Moves to Heaven


Move to Heaven: "Unmet hopes. Undelivered truths. Untimely deaths.  Trauma cleaners piece together odes to loved ones from the departed."  So  they're basically spiritualists conducting high-tech seances to tell people "Your father loved you."  

But the trailer is quite different:  Cute Guy #1 (Tang Joon-Sang, below)  in a haz-mat suit cleans a run-down apartment, while a voice over says that he has to "Move to heaven for three months" before he can get his guardianship (become a guardian angel?).  Cute Guy #2 (Lee Je-hoon) climbs out of a tent in the living room, shocked -- no doubt he fell asleep in the wilderness, and died.  Cute Guy #1 tells him the rules: "Wash the dishes after you use them. Take out the trash."  A comedy about Oscar-Felix mismatched dead guys?  But it's 4:00 am, so I'm in.

: Cute Guy #3. Kim Seon-u (Lee Jae-wook), walks through a vast factory and peers into some sort of conveyor.  Uh-oh, it accidentally rolls over his foot!  He hobbles out of the factory into the night, returns to his tiny one-room apartment, and collapses onto the bed.

Scene 1: Cute Guy #1, Geu-Ru, at an aquarium, naming all the fish.  A girl picks him up ("my best friend for ten years"), and drops him off at the Chicken Bowl restaurant.  She waves; he bows awkwardly, not socially adept.  Maybe autistic?

Home, a house labeled "Move to Heaven."  Dad (Ji Jin-hee) serves dinner: two identical plates of eggs, toast, and apples.  Geu-Ru gets upset when it's slightly off.  Definitely autistic.  

Phone call: they have a job.  They load heavy chemical equipment into their van and set out.

Scene 2:  Kim Seon-u's apartment.  He died of sepsis from his untreated injury. and wasn't discovered for a week.  They go through his stuff and deduce facts about him, like "He was sensitive to smells."  Then they pack up everything and carry it out.  So they're house cleaners?  I thought they talked to the dead.

Scene 3:
On the way out, Geu-Ru notices the convenience store where the dead guy bought gimbap (Korean sushi) every day.  He recites the flavors from receipts they found in the apartment: anchovy, tuna, pollack roe.  They see him going in and flirting with the clerk. When will we get to the ghost whispering?

Scene 4:  Sleazy Guy telling Seon-u's parents that since he died at home, the company is not responsible. They're deaf, and speak through an interpreter. Dad and Geu-Ru arrive and give them Seon-u's stuff.  Mom goes through his phone messages, and find that he was forbidden from seeing a doctor and calling it a "workplace accident."  Shouldn't Seon-u tell her that from beyond the grave?  What's the point of being able to talk to dead people, if you can solve the mystery by going through the dead guy's phone messages?   

Dad overhears the evil corporate suits chortling over getting off and insulting Seon-u's parents, and intervenes.  So this is the plot, taking down the evil corporation?  What about Geu-Ru having to spend time in the afterlife with a slob?  When are we going to get to the paranormal?

Scene 5:  Meanwhile, Geu-Ru sees a girl wearing a medallion that he thinks Seon-u would like, so he accosts her: "There's something I want.  I really want to have it."  Naturally, she assumes that he wants sex, and screams.  Security calls Dad, who comes to pick him up.  

Scene 6:  Dad drops Geu-Ru off at the aquarium, and goes off to visit his lawyer.  But crossing a street, he collapse.  He has just enough time to call Geu-Ru and say "I'm sorry."  The paramedics arrive.

Geu-Ru waits and waits, and then decides to drive home, but it's too much for him.   He gets stuck on a bridge.  So here's where he dies, and has to spend 3 months in heaven with a slob to become a guardian angel?

Dad dies in the ambulance.

Best friend arrives to get Geu-Ru out of the car and tell him what happened.  How did she know where he was?  Why did they inform her that Dad died like ten minutes ago? Why did they drop the plot about taking down the evil corporation?  Where's the paranormal?

Scene 7:  Geu-Ru in a suit with Dad's ashes.  He wants to take them home instead of scattering them.  I assume that he's going to live with Best Friend's family now?  Or is Best Friend going to become his guardian?

Scene 8: At home, Geu-Ru looks at Dad's memorial. 

Scene 9:  Cho Sang-gu, Cute Guy #2 from the trailer, shows up at Geu-Reu's house.  Best Friend answers the door.  He makes himself at home, explaining that the house now belongs to him.   For some inexplicable reason, before he died Dad designated ex-con prize fighter Cho Sang-gu as Geu-Reu's legal guardian.  The end.

So Geu-Reu never goes to the afterlife.  Cho Sang-gu has to live with him in  "Move to Heaven" in order to claim guardianship.  The hazmat suit is just because Cho Sang-gu made a mess in the house.  The tent in the living room -- he can't use one of the bedrooms?  No afterlife, no talking to dead people, no nothing. 

 Several cute guys. The prizefighter will probably take his shirt off.

Other Sights: Some very nice exterior shots.

Gay Characters: No one expresses heterosexual interest.

Paranormal:  Lots of promises, but no.  The "Trauma Cleaners" are house cleaners.  They don't even conduct Korean Shamanic rituals.

Setting Up the Premise: A full 50-minute episode.  How about 5-6 minutes? 

My Grade: I feel cheated after waiting 50 minutes for someone to go to heaven or talk to dead people.  Other than the annoying misdirection in the trailer, not bad. B.

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