Being as butch as a particularly butch butcher called Butch, star of his own zany comedy/Ultimate fighting show The Mighty Butch, I very rarely find myself being treated like a doormat by femmes fatales who see me ‘just as a friend’. You know the sappy type of guy who picks up all a girl’s bar bills and comes round to wipe away their tears the moment that stubbly surfer dude of a boyfriend does the dirty on them (again). Ok just occasionally it might have happened. In my young naive days, when I assumed that if I hung around a girl long enough surely she’d end up sleeping with me by accident, probably after a late night session on the Diamond White. Those embarrassingly lame moments of my youth, which I’d all but forgotten about, were brought back with crystal clarity by a muy divertido film my housemate brought back from Monkey Business Video Club (thankfully with English subtitles) last night called Pagafantas.
A Spanish yoofism, ‘pagafantas’ is a hybrid word made out of pagar (to pay) and Fanta, as in the soft drink. It is used to denote the kind of guy who lapdoggishly follows cute girls around, buying them sodas in the hope that one day their sexless relationship will develop into something more… except, as we all know, it never does (well, there was this one time in Russia, but that’s another story…). The film, Pagafantas, unsurprisingly is about one such guy called Chema, who having recently broken up with a girlfriend he’s just not that into, is desperate to work his way into the sack with any chica that will have him. Unfortunately Chema has definitely not read The Game. He hasn’t even had one IOI when he lunges in for the kill with a girl at a nightclub, prompting a defensive move, described in the film as ‘The Cobra’, followed by a hefty slap. When, still looking for love a week later, he chances upon a pretty Argentinean hairdresser called Claudia (who he unearths in a dustbin…) the scene is set for ‘a romantic comedy – without the romance’.
As our amorous hero, under the tuition of the arguably even more chumpish Uncle Jaime (who is hopelessly in love with Chema’s mother… he is not Chema’s real uncle, in case you thought this was getting incestuous), does everything to worm his way further into Claudia’s affection he succeeds only in paying for her drinks, acting as a model for her horrific hair highlighting experiments and even marrying her to prevent her from being deported. Needless to say her macho Argentine ex-boyfriend, who she is giving another chance, is there to take over consummation duties once the paperwork has been done!
The movie is well-produced, with great performances and excellent editing, and unlike most Hollywood movies of the same ilk the film never drags. Overall the joy of Pagafantas is the painful hometruths it holds up to the audience, best summed up by Chema’s mother, who brutally encapsulates the moral of the tale when she says: “As a woman, there are some men you see in a sexual way, and there are others… you don’t.” It was a bit more punchy in Spanish, and anyway I can’t be bothered to find the exact quote on the DVD, but you get the point.
SPOILER ALERT. Best of all the ending finishes on a clever dual note, with cautious cause for hope trumped by Chema’s hopelessly cautious cause. Whereas Chema’s mother seems to finally be melting under the warmth of Uncle Jaime’s affections (Christ, at her age I wouldn’t have been so fussy! No homo.), Chema proves resolutely pathetic until the end. Just as he looks like he’s going to reveal his true feelings and read Claudia her final ultimatum, he caves to her impression of him as a loyal and sexless sidekick. Waking up on board a plane to Buenos Aires, Claudia gushes to Chema that she no longer sees him as a best friend – but as a brother, and she hugs him platonically patting him on the back. The film ends there, leaving all the pagafantas of the world to contemplate their utter, and irreversible, ineptitude.
Watch a trailer of Pagafantas (in Spanish only) here.