You’ve fallen on hard times and you don’t have enough money? Have you thought of becoming a drug dealer? This is what Smetto Quando Voglio or I Can Quit Whenever I Want offers as a solution. All joking aside, this is a breezy and fun Italian comedy about a bunch of university professors who start making and selling drugs. It spawned two sequels with declining quality and one Spanish remake with the same title. Of course, I cannot talk about Italy and drugs without mentioning Gomorrah. This tv show is based on real events investigated by Roberto Saviano, an Italian author, now under permanent police protection. As you might have guessed, the mafia doesn’t like its secrets streamed to every household in the world. I always get carried away when I remember just how good it is. And I’ve only seen it once.
Smetto Quando Voglio is a bit more serious comedy than the Spanish 2019 version. It shines a light on the subject of so-called “legal”, synthetic drugs that swept the market in recent years. Using loopholes in the law, synthetic cannabis and other substances caused a lot of deaths and suffering. Especially in the UK where it’s called spice. If you want to know more I think Vice has a couple of good stories about it. Here, however, we will be dealing with an equivalent of ecstasy or MDMA. They went all-in with this nerdy professor doing something crazy theme with mixed results. Some of the jokes and gags just fall flat and this influences the pacing significantly. However, some of them are brilliant, especially delivered by such a great cast. I mean, the hand gestures alone are just hilarious.
Apparently, that’s not a stereotype after all. I think that same goes for all the dialogue, as our characters are commenting on every step and aspect of their lives. Sometimes all this can be just so overwhelming you’ll tune out. Smetto Quando Voglio is made primarily for internal use and this stems from that fact. However, this provides us with an opportunity to take a look at what Italians find funny or how they go about certain things. Much like in the French comedy Vive La France.
The financial crisis has hit Italy badly. This means there will be a lot of people who are going to lose their jobs. Among them is Pietro Zinni, a brilliant neurobiologist who’s ready to do something about it. He gathers his friends, all brilliant scientists in their fields, but struggling financially, and proposes a daring plan. To manufacture and sell drugs making money that way. All of them instantly agree and so a strange gang is formed. A gang that does things differently and more efficiently. However, it’s not going to take them long to draw the attention of their competitors on the market and police.
Although it’s quite clunky and sometimes sluggish, this is a fun movie. The basis of the humor is the famous fish out of water gimmick. Our uptight but boisterous and passionate professors will find themselves in clubs, drug deals, and other awkward situations. All because they were, let’s say, nudged towards them. This feels like a very personal movie as we focus on the lives of people fucked over by the system, like most of us. They only want to live a decent life and focus on their studies. However, that’s not how things work in the real world. I’ll refrain from ranting and leave you to enjoy this lighthearted comedy. And don’t worry, I’ve prepared similar movies from other European countries, so keep an eye out for them. Enjoy.
Director: Sydney Sibilia
Writers: Valerio Attanasio, Andrea Garello, Sydney Sibilia
Cast: Edoardo Leo, Valeria Solarino, Valerio Aprea, Paolo Calabresi, Libero De Rienzo, Stefano Fresi, Lorenzo Lavia
Fun Facts: The chemical formula of the drug is MDMA, so in Italy it’s illegal.