Part nine of my survey of Argentine animated feature films – featuring films by directors Gustavo Cova and Andrés G. Schaer.
El Ratón Pérez 2: El Ratoncito de Tes Sueños (Pérez the Rat 2: The Mouse of Your Dreams), directed by Andrés G. Schaer. 90 minutes. December 12, 2008.
Despite being an obvious sequel to 2006’s El Ratón Pérez, looking the same with the same CGI rat supporting cast, and claimed as a production by the Patagonik Film Group, El Ratón Pérez 2 was primarily produced by Filmax Animation in Barcelona with Patagonik only a subcontractor, and is officially a Spanish rather than an Argentine film. I am nevertheless including it here.
El Ratón Pérez 2 was made “less Argentine” by being set internationally rather than specifically in Buenos Aires. Pérez’s ship is now on the high seas, apparently in the Indian Ocean; El Rata has moved his dance palace aboard it; and after being betrayed by Fugaz, Pérez is personally running the ship as well as exchanging children’s lost teeth for gold coins, all over the world. He’s become exhausted and dreams of taking a vacation, but María Laucha constantly notifies him of new children around the world who need their lost teeth replaced by coins. María has a new assistant, the rat boy Ratito. (The only live-action human who returns in a bit part is Joe Rigoli as the elderly Justo Morientes, the jeweler who exchanges the coins for the tooth-pearls.)
The live-action introduces Lucas, the 8-year-old son of workaholic parents Leo, a TV newscaster, and Muriel Lebecque, a famous concert pianist. Lucas is a skeptic who doubts that the hairy tooth fairy could really visit children all around the world, and exchange all their baby teeth for coins without ever being noticed. When Muriel is hired by the world-famous, self-promoting entrepreneur Gil Penkoff to produce a series of records (PENKOFF PRESENTS MOZART, played by Muriel Lebecque), Leo’s job does not permit him to take Lucas and his slightly older bratty sister Ana with him, so the kids go with their mother to Penkoff’s old-fashioned but palatial estate, in which he has set up a music studio for her. The estate is large enough for Muriel and the children to each have a separate room.
Scenes show that Penkoff is secretly being backed by a ruthless businessman who demands that Penkoff’s projects make him a substantial profit, and that one of Penkoff’s other projects is selling the Penkoff 1.0 rat-catching device. Perez has already encountered these, which make getting to children’s bedrooms riskier. The businessman assigns two “assistants” to help and watch Penkoff.
Lucas loses a baby tooth and puts it under his pillow at Penkoff’s estate, but he determines to stay awake and catch the hairy tooth fairy in action. Perez comes with a portable chest with all the gold coins he will need that night, but when he finds Lucas still awake after midnight, he hides behind a clock to wait for the boy to sleep. The exhausted Perez falls asleep first. He wakes the next morning to find that he has been discovered by Lola, a teenage female rat (with too much lipstick) who has hidden him. Perez wants to complete his job and leave, while Lola insists that he needs to relax more. She will help him, whether he wants it or not. Perez and Lola are arguing in the estate’s garden when Lucas hears them rustling in the tall plants and tries to catch whatever is making the noise. The rats escape, but Lucas gets Perez’s chest of gold coins.
Lucas tries to tell his mother, but she is too busy to listen. When Penkoff tries to shoo Lucas from bothering her, the boy shows him the gold coins. Penkoff promises to help Lucas, to find where the gold “really” comes from, but when he gets a glimpse of Lola and Perez and realizes that the anthropomorphic rats are genuine, he determines to catch them to become richer than any gold coins can make him.
Perez phones María, who has been in charge of the ship during his absence, to say that he’ll be gone longer than expected. María, exasperated, drafts the pleasure-loving El Rata to go to Penkoff’s estate with Ratito to bring Perez back. They arrive just as Penkoff, covered with plaster (after an attempt to catch Perez with the Penkoff 1.0 rat-catching device fails), chases him past the Lebecques. Penkoff captures El Rata instead and takes him to his guardians, convincing them to support him. Penkoff uses El Rata to persuade Perez to surrender to him, and Lola is also captured. Penkoff no longer needs Muriel Lebecque’s piano-playing and sends her and her children away; while Muriel and Ana, who now believe in Perez’s reality, agree to help Lucas free the captured rats. Meanwhile, María enlists Morientes, the old jeweler, into also helping. The climax, which involves much pastry-throwing, is at a grand TV event where Penkoff boasts that he will unveil Perez, live, in public; with the Lebecques (plus Leo), and more rats than Penkoff suspects uniting to foil him.
El Ratón Pérez 2 was another feature with both a Spanish Spanish and a Latin American-dialect voice track.
Boogie, el Aceitoso (Boogie, the Oily), directed by Gustavo Cova. 82 minutes. October 22, 2009.
Boogie, el Aceitoso was adapted from the Argentine popular comic strip by Roberto Fontanarrosa, whose art design was used for 2007’s Martín Fierro, La Pelicula. Fontanarrosa, who died in 2007, was known as El Negro for his bleak, “everybody is no damn good” approach; and Boogie, the Oily was an exaggerated parody of a super-violent and sadistic gangster comic strip, emphasizing racism and sexism.
Boogie is an ex-U.S. Army veteran who got to like killing and torturing people in the Vietnam war. Later he became a killer-for-hire as a civilian in New York. In a sort-of prologue, he meets the plump Marcia at a bar, who asks him if he finds her attractive. He replies with maximum rudeness that he doesn’t like fat women.
Three months later, Mafia kingpin Sonny Calabria goes to trial. He is worried about a mystery witness who could incriminate him. Jones, Calabria’s henchman, tries to hire Boogie to kill her, but he demands too much money. It’s no deal. A couple of interludes show that Boogie’s relationship with a girlfriend, Sue, isn’t likely to lead to marriage (Sue doesn’t really expect it to, though her mother is disappointed), and that the corrupt police unofficially tolerate Boogie because he (mostly) kills other bad guys, unlike his main rival, the psychopathic Blackburn who kills everybody.
Boogie learns that Calabria has hired Blackburn instead, and that this could hurt his own reputation. Boogie decides to kidnap the witness and force Calabria to pay his fee. The witness has fled to the seedy Gran Hotel on the other side of the U.S. Boogie finds that Blackburn is killing everyone in the hotel he meets on his way to the witness on the top floor. The witness is Marcia, who lost weight and dyed her mousy brown hair after Boogie criticized her (which made her unattractive to Calabria, who likes fat women). Boogie rescues her from Blackburn, making the psycho killer a deadly enemy. Marcia falls in love with Boogie, until she learns that he only intends to sell her to Calabria. As Boogie and Marcia drive back to New York, she alternates between thinking that he won’t really turn her over to Calabria, and trying to escape to police protection. Blackburn trains himself to fight Boogie, but seems to honor his agreement with Calabria. Blackburn delivers Calabria’s payment to Boogie, but says that the deal calls for Boogie to kill Marcia himself. Boogie refuses.
After leaving, Boogie has regrets about selling out Marcia. They are reinforced when Blackburn follows to kill him. An extended fight results in Blackburn’s death, and Boogie returning to kill Calabria’s remaining thugs and rescue Marcia. Boogie decides to return to New York and have Marcia testify against Calabria after all. Boogie’s top-speed drive across the U.S. results in his leading an army of police cars to the trial. At the trial, Calabria’s lawyer tries to kill Marcia, and everyone in the audience except Boogie turns out to be one of Calabria’s killers. Almost everyone is killed except Boogie and Marcia, who takes two of Boogie’s guns and joins him in the slaughter fest. But she beats Calabria to death with her high heels. Boogie and Marcia are the only two left alive, covered in blood and in love.
However, in a brief epilogue, Marcia is alone back in the Green Brick bar where she first met Boogie. He has re-enlisted in the U.S. Army and gone to Iraq or Afghanistan, where he can slaughter people again.
Boogie, el Aceitoso was Latin America’s first 3-D animated feature. It was begun with Roberto Fontanarrosa’s close participation, but he died very early in the production. Despite the feature’s faithfulness to the comic strip, the latter’s popularity turned out to be more intellectual prestige than real popularity. The “humorously noir” movie was just too violent, bloody, and sadistic for the general public.
Next week: Argentine Animated Features. Part 10, 2010.