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Edgar Neville maintained that laughter is the way intelligent people communicate with each other. Said that sounds a bit arrogant and, indeed, it is. It's not okay to use humour to draw boundaries and much less to insult those who haven't caught the joke. There's always some. On the contrary, if there is any utility to be attributed to humour (an attitude, rather than a property, by definition useless) it is precisely its ability to suspend judgment, keep a prudent distance from the subject at hand and make us all agree on the only thing that is certain: the new cap on milk bottles is as absurd as life itself.

Taika Waititi knows this. He knows about Neville, he knows about humor, he probably knows about earplugs, and he even knows how to turn a superhero movie into something not embarrassing. Not to mention the huge and divine delirium of 'What We Do in the Shadows' or, much more extreme, 'The Conchords'. And if we have to cite a film as the best illustration of that question that always falls to a comedian (that of the limits of his profession), there is 'Jojo Rabbit'. Not even Hitler has escaped Waititi's ever-oblique gaze.

The long preamble is enough to situate the level of expectation. Will Waititi be able to make a comedy about football funnier than 'The Phenomenon' (check it out, Fernán Gómez was very funny)? The truth is that few human activities are as oversized and, therefore, so in need of humor as precisely sport (or religion, depending on how you look at it) that counts Sergio Ramos' tattoos among its miraculous revelations. On paper, everything looked in favor. Listening to the story of the American Samoa national team that achieved the record of losing 31-0 in an official competition seems appetizing, to say the least. And not so much to laugh at the loser as to just replay a game in which the ball enters the goal at the same rate as Ramos visits his tattoo artist. Very crazy.

Well, don't be fooled, Waititi can already boast another record: being responsible for one of the worst films cinema has ever been capable of. The problem is not the reluctance with which the 'gags' enter, nor the flatness of a script that only replicates clichés, nor the puerile interpretation of an unrecognizable Michael Fassbender, nor that tendency to silly moralism into which this sovereign abomination falls again and again. And that's not to mention the racist-to-just stupid condescension with which the people of American Samoa are treated. No, all that, while verifiable, is actually soothing. Any bad comedy can afford to be listless, cheesy, and conventional (racist, no, beware. Neither a comedy nor anyone should allow themselves to be racist no matter what Alfonso Guerra and Pablo Motos say). No, the serious thing is how terribly catastrophic each football scene is. And this is said by someone who is not passionate at all.

Waititi has made a football film as he could have made it out of beach petanque (I can't think of another comparison now). He doesn't understand anything and lets the viewer know it in every frame with a mise-en-scène that is as orthopedic and unreal as it is just terrifying. Perhaps that's what the bet consisted of, in doing everything wrong to match the lack of expertise of the team portrayed with the very invoice of a film that, next to it, leaves 'The Great Adventure of Parcheesi' at the level of 'Citizen Kane'. But of course, that's not funny. That's cruel. What a missed opportunity for Sergio Ramos to make his film debut. Him or his tattoo artist.

And then another day we talked about milk caps.

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