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The Paranoids -- Film Review

The Bottom Line

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The problem with movies revolving around slackers is that they too often tend to be as aimless as their lead characters. Such is the case with "The Paranoids," an Argentine comedy that, despite some interestingly offbeat moments, is unlikely to reach much commercial traction on these shores.

Set in Buenos Aires, Gabriel Medina's comedy centers on thirtysomething Luciano (Daniel Hendler), a failed screenwriter who makes a meager living performing at children's birthday parties. Unfortunately, that sideline is derailed when he accidentally shoves a door on his partner's throat. And, as the title would suggest, he's a paranoid, especially fearful of the many sexually transmitted diseases to which he feels himself at risk.

Luciano becomes even more depressed when he learns that he's the inspiration for a hit Spanish television series created by his old friend Manuel (Walter Jakob) in which the central character is a total loser. Matters aren't helped when Manuel shows up with the news that he's about to create an Argentine version of the show. Even when he offers Luciano a job, it's done with an air of condescension.

That's about it for the story line, which wanders into romantic intrigue when Luciano develops an obsession for Manuel's beautiful girlfriend (Jazmin Stuart).

Director/co-writer Medina is unable to make us sufficiently care about his lead character despite Hendler's more than convincing performance. The film proceeds in dribs and drabs, coming to life too late in the game with a climactic sequence in which Luciano engages in a particularly sensual dance at a nightclub.

Devoid of narrative tension and lacking the humor that would alleviate the essential dullness of the proceedings, "The Paranoids" has reason to be fearful, at least of critics.

Opens: Friday, Jan. 22 (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
Production: Mondo Cine, TGLT Films, Toto Films, Bahsa Films
Cast: Daniel Henlder, Martin Feldman, Walter Jakob, Jazmin Stuart, Veronica Perdomo, Miguel Dedovich
Director: Gabriel Medina
Screenwriters: Nicolas Gueilburt, Gabriel Medina
Producer: Sebastian Aloi
Executive producers: Sebastian Aloi, Nicolas Tacconi
Director of photography: Lucio Bonelli
Art direction: Sebastian Roses
Editor: Nicolas Godlbart
Costume design: Paula Santos
Music: Guillermo Guareschi
No rating, 98 minutes