We’ve all caught wind of these “happiness” studies that consistently put Latin American countries like Costa Rica, Mexico, and Venezuela in the upper echelons of a list otherwise topped by jolly European powerhouses like Switzerland and Denmark. With criteria like “perceptions of corruption” and “GDP per capita,” residents of some countries might be a bit confused as to how they managed to make the list, but Costa Rica’s reputation as the Switzerland of Latin America means it’s not totally out of place in the number 12 slot on the latest World Happiness Report.
So director Soley Bernal decided to team up with a local bank to make a movie about it. What exactly the connection is between a Costa Rican bank, happiness, and popular comedy is entirely open to interpretation, but El lugar más feliz del mundo is positioned to become yet another box office smash in a country that just recently broke records with the costumbrist comedy Maikol Yordan de viaje perdido. El lugar más feliz del mundo follows a group of television comedians who struggle to keep their jobs when their channel goes belly-up, and in their desperation, undertake a mystical journey into the very heart of happiness.
Filmed with a paltry budget of $350,000, El lugar más feliz del mundo actually qualifies as a Costa Rican superproduction, with nearly double the budget of Maikol Yordan and another $500,000 just for promotional purposes. A glance at the trailer suggests the film is generally well shot, though with its very local brand of over-the-top comedy, it’s not clear whether El lugar más feliz del mundo can bank on box office receipts outside the land of pura vida. Foreign talents in the form of Colombian and Puerto Rican actors certainly add another level of pedigree to the film, but the the cast seems to rely more on funny faces than actual acting to get its point across.
Either way, it’s another positive development in a country where film production seems to be increasing by the day. Hopefully the real Costa Rican masterpiece is waiting just around the corner. That’s something we could all be happy about.
El lugar más feliz del mundo opens in theaters across Costa Rica on November 12, 2015.