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Review: ‘Witching And Bitching’ Adds Witchcraft To The Battle Of The Sexes

Review: 'Witching And Bitching' Adds Witchcraft To The Battle Of The Sexes

How delightful is it that we have
filmmakers like Alex de la Iglesia and movies like “Witching And
” being released every couple of years? This madcap horror
comedy is the typically insane genre gumbo that de la Iglesia
regularly puts together for his (unfortunately shrinking!) fanbase,
replete with religious blasphemy, slapstick comedy, bawdy sex and
inspired, watery gore. To not feel even a minor kick from “Witching
And Bitching” as it veers wildly from one plot thread to the next
is to be truly dead inside.

The picture opens with what looks like
the beginning of a bad standup comedy bit: a gold-skinned Jesus and a
Green Army Man attack a jewelery store and rob them of their baubles.
In the middle of the square, the two of them are clad in what amounts
to mascot gear (they share space with a Spongebob Squarepants) before
staging their siege. The comedic shock upon seeing a young boy
assisting them in the robbery is compounded by the hostages
discovering that painted-Jesus Jose (Hugo Silva) is actually
employing his son in the robbery. A back-and-forth ensues, where they
attempt to give advice to Jose on how to raise his own child. It’s
not his fault, as he holds the shotgun while claiming it’s the only
way he’ll get to spend time with his son.

A large chunk of the first act plays
out like this, with Jose and Antonio (Mario Casas) bickering with
their kidnapped driver Manuel (Jaime
) about the women in their life,
complaints that amount to, “She’s terrible because I’m a screw-up
and she notices!” While Juan cares for his ten-year-old moppet of a
son, his relationship with the boy’s mother is so strained that when
she calls his phone, her name comes up as “Armageddon.” The
handsome, dim Antonio is amusingly positive about everything, but
once you learn about how he happily gets emotionally abused by his
girlfriend, you see a trend spotting. Amusingly, much of “Witching
And Bitching” is spent on outlandish action and suspense, but a
good chunk is devoted to men sitting together, making piddling
complaints about getting no respect from women who don’t think
they’ve earned it.

So dedicated are they to airing out minor
grievances that the foursome don’t realize they’re in witch
country. With nightfall swallowing them, and the stolen goods
suddenly misplaced, they’re led to a massive castle where the town’s
older fair maidens live. Chief amongst these is de la Iglesia’s muse
Carolina Bang. There are symphonies the world over that cannot play
music lovely enough to capture Ms. Bang’s essence. The most beautiful
woman in the international cinema, this wide-eyed vision of feral
eroticism plays Eva, the youngest witch, who soon grows fond of
bumbling Jose as the group searches for Jose’s suddenly-missing son.
As the action intensifies, Eva’s lupine athleticism lends itself well
to a savage series of escalating Looney Tunes-level battles, as the
witches reveal themselves first through comical mishaps, and soon
through Lovecraftian worship of evil.

“Witching And Bitching” is a
proudly silly film, the type of movie lawless enough to feature a
child bound and gagged as he’s pushed into a furnace, but juvenile in
spirit as to allow the other characters present to showcase a comical
double take reaction as if they can’t decide what’s really wrong with
that picture. The jokes are silly throwaways in spirit, small bits of
wordplay and gags about the caste system of women looking to
emasculate men. The women are essentially a response to anyone (read:
most of the internet) who feels so threatened by females coming
together to conspire against males. Guess what, dudes? It was totally
happening, and you were too busy having shit fits to notice.

Ultimately, the picture lacks the
political insight of de la Iglesia’s recent work, opting instead for
a depiction of the battle of the sexes complete with an eternal
organization of old, catty biddies who negotiate souls over tea time.
Which is fine: an action-heavy third act is Raimi-esque, sending
characters literally up the walls galloping after each other, before
a massive CGI behemoth shows up and basically outdoes the entirety of
Bryan Singer‘s “Jack The Giant Slayer.” It builds and builds,
while Silva and Casas amusingly bicker and place blame the entire
time, bringing the wrath of their captors down upon them. It’s
ludicrous genre fun even if you didn’t take into account the
properly-bewitching Ms. Bang. When she takes flight, it’s almost as
if the movie comes with her, building to an acrobatic finale teaming
an all-powerful evil and a rather complain-y group of heroes. [A-]

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