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The Monster

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Those masochistic souls waiting patiently for Three’s Company: The Movie (no word yet, but you just know it’s coming sooner or later) can make do for now with this Italian stab at the comedy of crass sexual high jinks. Benigni stars in The Monster as a gentle, genial fellow who’s mistakenly identified as a serial murderer-rapist; subsequently, every innocuous move he makes appears to confirm that he’s a homicidal, sex-crazed lunatic. It’s up to undercover cop Nicoletta Braschi to lure him into the open by repeatedly shoving her erogenous zones in his face. Guffaw! Roberto Benigni (best known for succeeding Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther series) is always a charming screen presence, but this movie, which he also directed and cowrote, is patently offensive, with a grade-school view of female sexuality. And much worse, it’s only occasionally funny. Michel Blanc, a superb French actor (Monsieur Hire), plays the equivalent of Mr. Roper. Reruns are cheaper. C-

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