A frantic farce set against the backdrop of a New Year’s Eve TV spectacular, Álex de la Iglesia’s “My Big Night (Mi Gran Noche)” comes flying out of the gate at such an impossibly full-throttle clip you wonder how on earth it’s going to sustain that frenetic momentum for its 97-minute running time.
Alas it doesn’t, but at least until this Spanish showbiz satire begins to sputter, the sprawling ensemble piece possesses a certain throwback screwball charm.
An accident involving a background actor and a wayward camera crane sets off a veritable avalanche of wacky behavior during the taping of a holiday variety show complete with raging egos, uncontrollable libidos and unbalanced stalkers, not to mention delectably cheesy production numbers.
But the evening isn’t the only thing that implodes — De la Iglesia, a filmmaker known for his dark comedies, ultimately has nowhere to take this breathless ode to Fellini and his own mentor, Pedro Almodóvar, as well as backstage showbiz satires like Robert Altman’s “The Player” and Michael Hoffman’s “Soapdish.”
Ultimately, both the show and the film belong to beloved, septuagenarian Spanish crooner Raphael, who sportingly plays a parody of himself — a ruthless divo named Alphonso. While North American audiences will unlikely get the inside jokes, Martin Short might want to nab the remake rights.
‘My Big Night’
In Spanish with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills; Laemmle Playhouse, Pasadena.