The Italian Almanac

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Boldi and De Sica

Italian Movies - December 23

Italy's favourite comedy duo is winding up a 20-year cinema tradition on a high note this Christmas. To fans' dismay Massimo Boldi and Christian De Sica have announced that Natale A Miami (Christmas In Miami), which flew to the top of the box-office charts after its weekend release, will be their last movie together. Over the last two decades a trip to the Boldi-De Sica annual serving of festive film fun set in an exotic location has become a tradition for much of the Italian public.

They look set to go out with a bang though. Natale A Miami took over three million Euro last weekend and is on course to gross upwards of 20 million, like its predecessors. It replies on a tried-and-tested formula of slapstick, smut and toilet humour. It is not sophisticated comedy. But it is not trying to be.

Much of the popularity of the duo's films, which has often confounded cinema critics, is also based on De Sica's and Boldi's ability to make Italians laugh at their own faults and peculiarities. Their respective roles represent conflicting elements of Italy's national character. De Sica tends to play the charming - often sexist - rascal, who tries to cheat his way through life with his good looks and crafty mind. In this, his characters are only partly successful. Boldi, who is short and fat, usually plays an upstanding member of society, someone who is honest but also a stickler for the rules and a little bossy.

In the latest romp, played out at a Florida holiday village, they also make liberal use of stereotypes about American people to get laughs. The pair's characters head to the States to get over being dumped by their respective wives. "It's the classic family movie suitable for every section of the public," said producer Aurelio De Laurentis.

The split comes amid rumors that twosome have not been getting on in recent years, although Boldi suggested he simply wants to move on. "I just want to see if I can make people laugh in a more personal way on my own".