By Ethan Sapienza
It’s safe to say that Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” was a remarkably innovative romantic comedy, and a good one at that. The nebbish actor-writer-director combined comical, meta elements — like subconscious subtitles for a conversation — with the typical ups and downs of the genre. Rom coms ever since have been desperate to recreate the magic that Allen made seem so easy (see: “500 Days of Summer”), and though Alfredo De Villa’s “Fugly!” tries, it fails miserably.
“Fugly!” opens with Jesse Sanchez (John Leguizamo, who also co-wrote the film) doing a live vlog of his suicide to his supposed hundreds of thousands of followers. This beginning is an all too lazy one that allows Sanchez to directly tell the viewer his entire life story, rather than construct a more creative introduction and transition. The rest of the story progresses from there, and does not contain much more ingenuity or entertainment.
Through narration, it becomes apparent that Jesse developed an inferiority complex due to the presence of his more handsome and confident older brother (Yul Vazquez). With advice from his grandfather (Tomas Milian) about personality, “If you’re not good looking you better be funny,” Sanchez ultimately becomes an actor, relying on Hispanic stereotypes and comedic ability to make a fair amount of wealth.
Quite honestly, trying to describe the plot would simply spoil the entire movie, as practically nothing happens outside of the typical drama of boy-meets-girl. The only claim to individuality the film has is that it is riddled with inconsistencies, contradictions, poor pacing, bad acting and obviously low production value. Characters behave irregularly, conversations are often bizarre, nonsensical and are clearly manufactured to advance the plot. Cartoons and social media are interspersed to add levity and humor, though achieve neither.
The film as a whole drags on. Thanks to illogical characters, little sympathy can be had for anyone in the movie. Coupled with poor audio, sound effects and direction that are more fit for an ABC family movie, it makes no sense that a film with such a low budget and little plot wasn’t just a short film.
The lone bright spot is Leguizamo’s performance. A likable actor, he is undeniably charming and his personality brings the only points of comedy. It also helps that his acting is boosted when compared to all of the other putrid performances. Even Rosie Perez’s performance was poor, though it can be attributed to her flat and uninteresting character rather than a lack of effort.
Save yourself the 90 minutes, do not go see “Fugly!”
Ethan Sapienza is a staff writer. Email him at email@example.com.