By Gabe Toro | The Playlist June 13, 2014 at 12:38PM
How delightful is it that we have filmmakers like Alex de la Iglesia and movies like “Witching And Bitching” 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 Ordóñez) 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-]