In case you didn’t get the memo (Hollywood apparently lost it in their spam bin), it turns out Latin Americans actually like to see their realities reflected on the big screen. Of course, many Hollywood executives would argue that family-friendly tales of anthropomorphic adventures like, oh say, Ice Age 4, are actually universal fables that can be enjoyed the world over. But Costa Rican audiences just roasted that myth like a fresh batch of café arábica when the homegrown comedy Maikol Yordan de Viaje Perdido, surpassed – you guessed it – Ice Age 4 as the highest grossing film in Costa Rican box-office history.
Hatched from the somewhat twisted collective mind of San José comedy troupe, La Media Docena, Maikol Yordan de Viaje Perdido follows the adventures of Maikol Yordan: a good-hearted Juan Bobo-type who just can’t seem to scrounge up enough money to save the family farm from evil developers. When a chance win at a local radio contest sends him across the pond on a European adventure, it looks like his fate might just change for the better. Indeed, it’s not hard to see why Maikol Yordan has struck such a nerve with local audiences. The “save the family farm” trope is a tale as old as modern banking, mixed here with a healthy dose of Don Quijote and Latin American folklore. Call it a tropical Oh Brother! Where Art Thou?, but drop the escaped-convict bit.
Admittedly, judging from the trailer Maikol Yordan de Viaje Perdido‘s cinematic qualities seem a bit lacking. The production team obviously didn’t have the resources of the big-budget Hollywood comedies whose style they try to invoke, and the jokes sometimes give the sensation that you’re getting hit over the head with a “funny” mallet. But we’ve got to give it up to the team at La Media Docena for making a sincere effort and giving the Hollywood big shots a real run for their money.
As of January 26, after only six weeks at the box-office, Maikol Yordan has racked up an impressive 550,629 tickets sold and counting. Population of Costa Rica: 4.5 million. P’alante América Latina!