One of Netflix’s hidden luxuries is how it broadens American audience’s horizons.
Even if you only speak English, you can follow German teens as they travel through time, see characters rob a Spanish bank, or watch Norse mythology come to life in Norway. With these international works come an awesome sense of immersion into another culture. Forget long-distance airfare; all you need to learn about another country’s traditions is a strong enough wifi signal.
That is especially true for this 2020 Italian sci-fi film, which uses classic comedy techniques with a thoroughly modern twist.
Holiday on Mars is a 2020 film directed by prolific Italian filmmaker Neri Parenti. It’s part of an Italian subgenre known as cinepannetoni, which roughly translated means “movie Christmas bread.” Cinepannetoni are classically comedic films released around Christmastime, but rarely are about Christmas at all, making for a hilarious and raunchy farce can be enjoyed at any time.
Holiday on Mars, the latest cinepannetoni film, follows troublesome bachelor Fabio as he tries to marry his new girlfriend, despite having abandoned his wife and child years earlier. It sounds like a hilarious premise for a comedy film, but Fabio’s solution is what makes it such a great sci-fi offering. To skirt around the law, Fabio decides to get married on Mars, where people from Earth have set up a resort.
Like all classic farces, there’s a totally unrelated subplot too: Fabio’s son Giulio and his girlfriend, Marina, travel to Mars hoping to expose a pair of influencers who Marina is convinced are faking their relationship. Along the way, they run into Fabio, prompting the deadbeat father to send his son on a space excursion to get out of the way.
The comedy is only ramped up more when Giulio runs into a black hole, prematurely aging him 50 years. Now, Fabio’s son is an old man, and Marina isn’t exactly thrilled about the situation either. Through lies, disguises, and many rude jokes, the father-son pair try to navigate the wedding and get Giulio back to how he’s supposed to be.
Fabio and (old) Giulio are played by Christian de Rico and Massimo Boldi, the Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson of cinepannetoni. They’ve starred in movies together for over 20 years, and their chemistry is undeniable, even when the elder of the two is playing the 18-year-old. The comedy unapologetically evokes the ancient art of commedia dell’arte and the humor of an American Pie movie in equal measure.
Whether you’re an international aficionado or a subtitles beginner, if you’re looking for a way to escape to another culture — and another planet — look no further than Holiday on Mars.
Holiday on Mars is now streaming on Netflix.