Óscar Jaenada plays Mario Moreno in Cantinflas.
The magic of Cantinflas has arrived on the big screens of Los Angeles, in the form of a feature film that pays tribute to the life of Mario Moreno – Latin America’s most-renowned comic. Charlie Chaplin was once quoted as saying Cantinflas was the best comic alive, and that’s an observation shared by generations who continue to be captivated by his comedic genius.
This long overdue homage comes more than 20 years after his death and showcases his brilliant career and aspects of his personal life. The film is beautifully made and can truly be referred to as a work of art. The film was made despite several disputes amongst Cantinflas’ surviving family over the rights to his work.
This film is enjoying an enormous amount of publicity, which is seldom seen in a film of Mexican origin, yet it is warranted since Cantinflas is known all over the world and is also an important part of Hollywood cinema. For that same reason, the film’s premiere took place at Hollywood’s Chinese Theatre, 50 years after Cantinflas left his handprints there.
The red carpet welcomed members of the media as well as the film’s stars Óscar Jaenada, Michael Imperioli and Ana Layevska, and prominent Latin-American actors such as Zoe Saldana and Danny Trejo. The film’s producer Vidal Cantu was also present, and he – along with Jaenada – concluded the ceremony by placing their hands over Cantinflas’ concrete handprints.
Despite the spectacular nature of this feature film, and everything that goes along with it, the star is and always will be Cantinflas himself, and the celebrities in attendance only serve to enhance his brilliance.
The film focuses on his professional and personal life, and starts from when Cantinflas began his career as an actor at the turn of the 20th century. The film explores his successes and growth as an actor, recreates the filming of some of his most popular films, including the production of Around the World in 80 Days and Chaplin’s role in bringing Cantinflas aboard.
The film also highlights his Golden Globe win and his relationships with good friends Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra.
However, the film also explores difficult times of his life, including his frustrations of not being a father, the estrangement from his wife, bouts of infidelity and his struggles with fame.
Technically, the production is impeccable – it’s a beautiful painting full of light, color and magic. The opening credits are amazingly creative, as are the closing, which feature Jaenada and a ballerina doing a dance number in the style of El Bolero de Raquel.
Taylor was played by Bárbara Mori, Brando was played by Jon Ecker and “Mantequilla” was played by Adal Ramones. Other famous icons such as María Félix, Dolores del Río and Andrés Soler were not portrayed very well, and the actors’ resemblances were very poor.
The actor who steals the show is, of course, Spaniard Jaenada, who was able to completely embody Cantinflas in both resemblance and mannerisms. Despite outrage in the Mexican community due to the actor not being Mexican, it must be noted that no one but Jaenada would have been able to pull this off, and awards for his performance are all but guaranteed. His talent speaks for itself, and his magnificent performance was achieved without the use of heavy makeup or facial prosthetics.
Cantinflas is a story about a Latin-American treasure and proves to be a magnificent film that should be watched by everyone.
Edison Millan contributed to this article.