Film Review – Witching & Bitching
Witching & Bitching
I’m a big fan of the horror comedy. I like the gore and I like the funny, so combining the two sounds like gold to me. The best is when the humor is used to comment on the horror genre, Scream and Tucker & Dale vs Evil being two of my favorite examples, but I’ll take my laughs where I can get them. The new Spanish horror comedy, Witching & Bitching directed by Álex de la Iglesia, worked surprisingly well for me considering it had few scares, questionable sexual politics, and a bloated third act. I laughed a lot and mostly against my better judgment. I wanted to like this movie more than I did, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to having fun with it.
Divorced father Jose (Hugo Silva) is desperate to be with his son, and plans the robbery of a gold store to fund his escape from real life. He and his compatriots dress up as street performers to hide their identities. (Jose is a silver-painted Christ carrying the cross.) He wants to spend more time with his son Sergio (Gabriel Ángel Delgado) so he brings him along for the heist and uses him as a scout to make sure everything inside the store is going as planned. The cops come sooner than expected and the only ones to escape are Jose, Sergio, and Tony (Mario Casas), who is dressed as a green army man toy. (Poor Sponge Bob meets with a sad and bullet-ridden death.) They hijack a cab, complete with passenger, and head out of town. Their cab driver Manuel (Jaime Ordóñez) just follows orders at first, but eventually throws in with them when they discover all their problems are caused by the women in their life. Unfortunately, that pattern continues when they end up trying to get to the French border through the town of Zugarramurdi, a place that has historically belonged to witches. And witches there are aplenty. The men fall into the clutches of head witch Graciana (Carmen Maura), her addled mother (Terele Pávez) and her headstrong daughter Eva (Carolina Bang). The witches want Sergio because they believe he is the chosen one who will allow the Whore of Babylon to rise again. The men just want to get to French Disneyland in one piece.
All the guys in this film spend a considerable time complaining about the women in their lives and all the women actually in the film (except for a street preacher) are evil. Not bad, but evil witches who want to destroy Western civilization. The only reason I put up with any of it was because all the men were so incredibly dumb and lame the women had no choice but to be controlling and mean. But, there is no one to root for in this movie. The men are very funny, but – while they didn’t shoot anybody (maybe) – they were responsible for other people dying. And the women keep eating people. (And of course Eva falls in love with Jose and turns on her family. Because women are just fickle that way.) But, at least Sergio is cute, and while I may say I am all for the destruction of Western Civilization, I am mostly just kidding. I like watching television and not having to kill to survive, so maybe no on the Armageddon.
The movie starts out with the very funny heist scene – there is a great bit with Tony carrying Sergio to safety while Sergio is hanging over his shoulder with two guns blazing away. I know I should not find that funny, but I do. And that is a lot of the humor in this film. Squat toilets are not funny to use, but it’s hysterical to watch other people using them. (And creepy too in this case.) But the film just goes on forever. It’s about 20 minutes too long, and has one of those second endings I hate so much. (But watch for the magic act, like many things here it is horribly hilarious.) Also, I think there might be some cultural things I am not getting; two of the witches are played by men, and I am not sure how to read this. Are they just meant to be ugly women? Is cross-dressing inherently funny in Spain? It’s just one of those things that doesn’t translate well. There is also some gay-specific humor that, while not exactly homophobic, seemed inappropriate. But a lot of the humor in Witching & Bitching is inappropriate; some of it I found funny, some I did not. There seems to be something for everyone here: something to offend and something to laugh at. I dunno what to say. I can’t exactly recommend it, but I don’t regret watching the first two-thirds of it. So, if anything I’ve mentioned in this review sounds good to you, you might enjoy it.