If you’re looking for a hilarious laugh-out-loud comedy, look no further than Il Mostro. In translation, The Monster is one of the funniest European comedies of the nineties, coming from Italy. It’s right up there with French classics like The Visitors and The Dinner Game. We will be following your typical loveable loser who gets mistakenly identified by the police as a perverse serial killer. We, the audience, know what’s going but the characters in the movie don’t. A case of mistaken identity is one of the go-to concepts when it comes to comedies but for a good reason. This relatively simple setup is so fucking effective that you will be laughing non-stop.
It also worked well in other nineties comedies like A Man Who Knew Too Little and The Big Lebowski. Now, the first time I watched Il Mostro, I was about 15 and I fucking loved it. It was one of my favorite movies for years and years. Every time I would see it was going to be on tv, I got really excited. I knew that I’m going to be laughing for almost two hours trying not to piss myself in the process. Almost a quarter of a century later, Il Mostro is just as funny as it was back then. It has this universal sort of humor, a humor that appeals to everyone. It’s down-to-Earth, situational, and a bit cheeky. I would call it working-class humor being a working-class man myself.
Throw in a lot of sketch-type scenes and you got yourself a fucking masterpiece. And even those sketches further build the characters and show us a slice of Italian life. Yes, Il Mostro is an Italian movie and this gives it a special flavor. An authentic, unapologetically Italian vibe. And the language is so phonetically juicy you have to watch the original version and not that dub crap. Towards the end of the movie, there will be a reference to the “Mammolo”. Every time I hear that word I just burst into laughter. And if you happen to watch this movie with friends, you can use this reference in public next time you want to say someone is perverse. It can be your little code name.
A vicious serial killer has just claimed its 18th victim, this time a young nurse. This perverse sex maniac is the police’s top priority but they’re making little progress. At the same time, Loris, a part-time worker in a mannequin shop is just trying to get by. His landlord is trying to kick him out of his apartment and he’s barely making ends meet. To make things even worse, the police are starting to think that he’s the killer they’re looking for. However, first, they must prove it.
Of course, the main star of Il Mostro or The Monster is Roberto Benigni who also wrote and directed this movie. He’s a true comedic genius and I would put him up there with Charles Chaplin and Buster Keaton. And he’s not as clumsy as Peter Seller’s Hrundi in The Party. He’s conniving and slippery but also very charming and genuinely honest. He’s a man struggling to survive in this cruel world by any means necessary. If the world is crooked, you have to bend a little. That sounds like a good inspirational quote.
Now, Loris is not the only hilarious character we’re going to be meeting in this movie. We also have the brave cop Jessica, played by beautiful Nicoletta Braschi, who will have to go to great lengths to catch Loris. I loved Paride, the police psychologist trying to profile Loris using any means necessary. Really a predecessor to serial killer profilers that would become so popular in the years to come. And his “experiments” are hilarious, like pick one of these three balls, okay, you picked the red one, you’re a killer. I mean, all characters were great.
Il Mostro can also be viewed as a parody of all those eighties and nineties serial killer movies. It’s so casually edgy that you won’t notice just how intense it is. I mean, the movie opens with a police detective saying when asked if this was a rape case: “rape is a euphemism for this one”. I also recommend you don’t watch the trailer as it gives away too much of the plot.
Director: Roberto Benigni
Writer: Roberto Benigni, Vincenzo Cerami, Michel Blanc