Loco Love (2003) / Comedy-Romance
aka Mi Casa, Su Casa
MPAA Rated: PG for thematic elements, sensuality and language
Running Time: 94 min.
Cast: Roy Werner, Laura Elena Harring, Margaret Scarborough, Gerardo Mejia, Frank Gallegos, Victoria Ramirez, Barbara Eden
Director: Bryan Lewis
Screenplay: Steven Baer
After the first few minutes of Loco Love (aka Mi Casa, Su Casa in its film festival release), I was sure I would be in for an excruciating time with another poorly produced romantic comedy. While it didn't really do much that would confuse anyone to thinking this was a genuinely good movie, it does grow on you. Part of this has to do with the second half centering around would-be lovers Werner and Harring, and less on former rap star Gerardo (better known as the Latin rapper of the 1992 hit song, "Rico Suave"), who dominated most of the rather clumsy first half. It's definitely an amateurish production through and through, but innocuous enough for anyone who isn't expecting much more than made-for-TV type fare.
Gerardo stars as a Mexican gardener named Miguel, who sees fortune fall on his lap when he wins the lottery. In the meantime, his employer, an uppity Beverly Hills restaurateur, Donald, has fallen on hard times, having been jilted by his philandering girlfriend. In a drunken fit of despair, Donald tries to end his own life, but Miguel has some pity on his former boss, and concocts a plan that will bring a happy ending for everyone. Miguel agrees to set up Donald with a new restaurant in exchange for marrying his sister Catalina from Mexico, who wants citizenship so she can stay in the United States. The trouble is, Donald not only has to put up Miguel's family in his home, but also put up with the attractive but tempestuous Catalina, whose temper has him sometimes cowering in fear. Hilarity ensues.
Yes, it's a bit of a no-brain plot for a movie, and for the entirety of the running length, Loco Love is a wholly contrived sitcom. Still, for situational comedy, it's not really all that bad, and it's blessed with a likeable cast, especially Harring and Werner, who do a decent job fleshing out the rather one-dimensional roles.
On the down side, the script has its share of problems, most notably in the far-fetched plot turns and the rather old-fashioned style of humor, which relies on many stereotypes in both directions (white and Mexican) to push forward its race relation squabbles. The direction is merely passable, but the look of the film almost has a "shot to video" quality, over saturation of lighting, and a very cheesy musical score. You probably won't notice these things for the first half of the movie, because you will probably be completely transfixed on Gerardo's fake moustache, so bad that only holding a black plastic comb under his nose would have made it more obvious. Even with all of these liabilities, Loco Love still manages to be a harmless comic diversion, no better or worse than any other bad romantic comedy with a bigger budget.
Loco Love is a throwaway film, entirely forgettable once it's over, but so good-natured much of the time, it makes for an easy viewing. Unless you like watching every film with a Latino flavor, or need confirmation that Gerardo or Barbara Eden (of "I Dream of Jeannie") are still alive, there's not much here to recommend.
© 2003 Vince Leo