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Volere Volare amuses with its lighthearted love story

Volere Volare
Directed by Maurizio Nichetti.
Written by Maurizio Nichetti.
Starring Maurizio Nichetti, Angela Finocchiaro, Mariella Valentini, and Patrizio Roversi.
Loews Copley Place

By Deborah A. Levinson
Advisory Board

Volere Volare, Maurizio Nichetti's new comedy, brings fear of intimacy to new heights. Taking its cues from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Volere Volare blends live action and animation in a lighthearted, though lightweight, love story.

Nichetti's previous film, The Icicle Thief, also merged fantasy with reality by allowing Nichetti, there playing a director, to enter his movie when television commercial characters unexpectedly enter the film's plot. The Icicle Thief, with its clever, recursive structure, neatly skewered both rabid film buffs and Italian television.

Volere Volare is not half so ingenuous. The device of live action mixing with animated characters has lost a lot of its appeal and surprise now that we've all seen Roger Rabbit multiple times, and Nichetti, though a gifted physical comedian, is no Groucho Marx or Charlie Chaplin. Still, Volare Volare is a pleasant diversion, as long as one doesn't expect too much from it.

Nichetti plays a sound dubber named Maurizio. Shy, bumbling, and naive, Maurizio spends his days recording the sounds of a pedestrian falling or a hammer tapping against brick tile to add to the soundtracks of the old cartoons he dubs. Meanwhile, his brother Patrizio (Patrizio Roversi) dubs "art films" with a bevy of non-Italian-speaking, lingerie-clad aspiring actresses. Patrizio tries in vain to acquaint Maurizio with the opposite sex by allowing him to dub one of the art films. The result: a skin flick with the usual half-dressed women throwing themselves at a man, complete with a soundtrack of sproings, beeps, and whistles Maurizio uses for his cartoons.

Enter Martina (Angela Finocchiaro), a strange sort of prostitute who makes her living by fulfilling the fantasies of her wealthy clients. Twin architects get to clean her apartment and watch her shower; a taxi driver gets to take her on hair-raising rides around Rome; and, in what may be a bizarre parody of The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, a chef coats her in bittersweet chocolate and decorates her fancifully with candy rosettes, gumdrops, and silver balls.

Martina and Maurizio twice meet while Martina is on a job, and he inadvertently ends up playing roles in her clients' fantasies. When her clients realize that they have more fun when Martina brings her friend along, and Martina realizes that she is attracted to Maurizio, she asks him out.

During the date, Maurizio's romantic insecurities begin to manifest themselves in an unusual way -- his hands mutate into animated Mickey Mouse hands. The hands eventually fly away of their own accord, forcing Maurizio to chase after them and leave Martina stranded.

The mischievous hands bring about some wonderful scenes: they feed Maurizio spaghetti (mostly over his head) and take Martina on a drunken dance in midair. Cute animation, however, does not a movie make. Both Nichetti and Finocchiaro are winning in their roles, but the plot of the film is too insubstantial to support much more than the cartoons. A great deal of Volere Volare concentrates on vignettes about the jobs Maurizio and Martina hold which, while funny, do little to advance the plot.

This is not to say that Volere Volare is not an entertaining film. It is, but by no means is it the equal of The Icicle Thief, a comic gem. Volere Volare is more like the giant petit four Martina plays early on: sweet, and beautiful to look at, but ultimately, not enough to satisfy.