I would be lying if I said I was the least bit interested in watching “Teer Enta (Fly Now), Ahmed Mekki’s follow-up to last year’s sleeper hit “H Dabbour.
For starters, it seemed to be that I was the one person in this country who thought that “Dabbour was unfunny. Mekki had real talent but “Dabbour was a dreary affair; nothing more than a quick cash-in on Mekki’s signature character from popular sitcom “Tamer & Shawkeya that relied on tired formulas and forgettable one-liners.
The limited publicity for “Teer Enta didn’t bode well either. Armed with a mildly amusing rap video about “finding your strength, the trailer didn’t attempt to mask the fact that the film is a remake of Harold Ramis’s ill-fated flop “Bedazzled (2000) which itself was a remake of Stanley “Singin’ in the Rain Donen’s 1967 comedy classic starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.
The last thing I was looking for was another inane remake, but I must confess I was quite mistaken with my preconceptions of “Teer Enta , which is easily the funniest comedy of the year; a big, dumb laugh-fest that doesn’t pretend to be otherwise.
Adhering closely to the storyline of both films and the disjointed structure of the original Donen story, Mekki plays Dr Bahig, a lonely veterinarian whose two main passions are animals and uttering words that haven’t been in use since the 1919 revolution.
Raised by his grandpa, Bahig grows to be an introvert with little life experience. But his world goes haywire when he falls head-over-heels with Leila (Donia Samir Ghanem), a pretty dog owner whom he watches from afar, never daring to divulge his feelings for her.
On the eve of his birthday, a benign, chubby genie named Mared (Maged El-Kedwany) offers him seven wishes. Mared has been stuck in genie prep school for more than 100 years, always failing to deliver a successful graduation project. If he succeeds in his mission, namely to provide Bahig with adequate assets to make Leila fall in love with him, Bahig will be obliged to sign a document indicating that Mared passed the test, enabling him to finally graduate.
From then on, the non-stop hilarity begins. Assuming a multitude of characters, from the cooler than cool physical fitness buff and the overly sentimental, Tamer Hosni-like pop singer to the filthy-rich Arab who looks like the lost sibling of Winnie the Pooh and the pitiless southern thug who occasionally calls his wife “baby, Mekki, with a larger-than-life, over-the-top characterization, toys with every conceivable stereotype there is and turns it on its head.
Ghanem, although nowhere on the same level as Mekki, provides a nice support nonetheless and even manages to upstages him at one point with the most hilariously spot-on Egyptianized English accent I’ve heard.
Scripted by Omar Taher, author of the hugely popular sarcastic non-fiction “Shaklaha Bazet (Looks like It’s Gone Bad) and “Captain Masr , the film steers away from the moralizing tendencies of “Captain Masr and some of his latter writings and focuses strictly on the laughs.
The tone of the comedy is more sardonic than mirthful, relying on mockery than creating vacant situations for Mekki to run amok like Mohamed Saad and Heindi before him. This approach proves to be a gold mine for jokes that feel fresh, inventive and volatile in several segments.
“Teer Enta is shockfull of pop culture references impossible to translate outside the borders of this country. And herein lies the film’s biggest strength and the source of its biggest laughs. Picture any of pop culture’s hallmarks of the past 20 years and you’ll probably find them in there: Turkish soap opera “Noor, cheesy Kleenex ads, gushy love guru Osama Mounir, the candid camera, Jad Shwery. you name it. There are also some allusions to real-life events such as the internet blackout and a certain football incident that left me laughing hysterically.
The satire aside, the film, nevertheless, doesn’t descend into the self-important trap Ahmed Helmy fell into in his last film Alf Mabrouk . Director Ahmed El Guindy encloses the film with a frivolous, carefree aura augmented with a lovely soundtrack featuring Francis Lai’s famous theme from Claude Lelouch’s “Un homme et une femme and Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love. Despite the predictability of Bahig and Leila’s romance, there’s something sweet and charming about it that would justify your unavoidable chuckling at the end.
Unlike “Teer Enta, the comedy of the original Donen film was dry and low key. Although the film didn’t age well, the aptitude of Peter Cook to spew wackiness out of the ordinary drew multitudes of comedy lovers throughout the years to the film.
Yet, the clear drawback of “Bedazzled, and consequently “Teer Enta is its episodic structure and wobbly narrative line.
Both films are fundamentally comprised of a number of sketches punctuated by invariable intervals that do nothing apart from introducing the following sketch. The jokes don’t function as the motor of the narrative, simply because there isn’t one. The jokes are the movie and there’s nothing much more to it, which’s not a bad thing when such gags – which always hit their target – are fired so rapidly.
“Teer Enta is 100 minutes of non-stop laughter. In fact, I can hardly remember a moment in the film when I wasn’t laughing my head off. The end, as expected, is too conclusive but thankfully, the obligatory message is never overbearing, constituting only five minutes of the entire duration of the film.
Don’t except Tati or Blake Edwards or Monicelli when you go watch this film; “Teer Enta doesn’t have the DNA of a classic comedy. Simply put, it’s the flavor of the week, and after experiencing the bloodiest, gloomiest and over-all most feel-bad summer film season in years, it’s such a relief to finally watch a film that does know how to entertain.