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  • I came across La Gran vida at a friend's place, when I was asking him to suggest a movie for me. I am glad he recommended this. This is like a breath of fresh air! It is a light movie, about how desperate life can become, or... how interesting it can be. It all depends on how much money you have as the movie suggests. So Carmelo Gómez (Martin), a bus driver with not much of a life figures out that its not worth it ... Suicide is the answer. But as he attempts to commit suicide, some guy tries to make him change his decision, with a very tempting question: How about Living for one week with 100 million dollars in your hands then die after that? -- Now that is an interesting offer for sure. He will take 100 million dollars, but he must return them as 150 after one week, or else he gets killed, well he is about to commit suicide so why not delay it for a week? And so ... we join the ride, one poor man's 7 day journey with excessive wealth! Salma Hayek (Lola), looking better than ever, is very convincing in her role. Don't look for a great script with twists, look for a warm and interesting story! Avoid some draw backs from the writers and you will enjoy this. Enjoy Carmelo Gómez's acting, very good! It doesn't demand much, so don't ask for a lot! 7/10
  • ¨La Gran Vida¨or ¨Living It Up¨ is a nice and nutty comedy well starred by Carmelo Gomez and Salma Hayek . This entertaining film packs amusement , slapstick , hilarious incidents , tongue-in-cheek , surrealist comedy including conventional pitfalls and many other things . It tells the story of a bus driver called Martin (Carmelo Gomez)on edge a nervous breakdown , when suddenly a strange man called Salva (Fernando or Chato Valverde) offers him some friendly advice , borrow 100 million pesetas from the Mafia and do everything he has ever dreamed of before ending his life , such as to blow on a final round of merrymaking before committing suicide , throwing on a famous bridge in Madrid . While spending the money he falls in love with Mexican waitress named Lola (Salma Hayek) and realizes now he has something to live for . The only problem is that now he has to find a way to pay back the 1 million he owes to the loan sharks . At the end he has to deal with dangerous hoodlums , but having spent the cash he is pursued by the Mafia , taking place fun situations .

    This is a slightly funny film with entertaining events , giggles , emotion , twists and a romantic love story ; being originally written by the prestigious screen-writer and filmmaker Fernando Leo De Aranoa . The film moves in fits and starts most of which would be desirable , with more traps the viewer resists any kind, and some moments of enjoyment and others quite a few ridiculous . It is a special Spanish comedy from the 2000s with the usual ingredients such as wild humor topped with a little bit of original touches here and there and the tone of the film is light-hearted . It's an agreeable , moving film , perfectly acted and concerning the narration about the relationship among a botcher driver , a Mexican waitress , a peculiar adviser and Mafia . This is a typical Spanish comedy from the 2000s with the customary ingredients such as silly humor , embarrassing events and close relationships among people , including an enjoyable romance. It turns out to be pleasantly fun that offers no intellectual stimulus whatsoever ; an exercise in pure amusement in which entertainment and fun are guaranteed . The characters are quite odd , grotesque and weird and the film races on at incredible speed . Sitting in a strange middle ground between the completely absurd and the stylishly cool . Nice acting Carmelo Gomez as a bus driver who when is on the verge of committing suicide borrows 100 million pesetas , and falls for a Mexican waitress finely performed by Salma Hayek and finds he has something to live for . Special mention to Fernando ¨Chato¨ Valverde as a rare adviser called Salva . Fine support cast such as Eusebio Lazaro , Carlos Bardem , Carlos Kaniowsky , Miguel Ayones , Alicia Agut , Txema Blasco , Pilar López De Ayala and special appearance by the great Paul Naschy or Jacinto Molina . On the surface, ¨La Gran Vida¨ doesn't get much wrong , it looks okay , the comedy misunderstandings pile up in a reasonably amusing fashion and the performance is acceptable . My feelings are extremely mixed but I must admit there are things I haven't been able to stop laughing about ; but also has the usual ups and downs .

    Including a spotless pictorial as well as colorful cinematography by Nestor Calvo (Atomica , Lobo , Nos Miran , Lobos De Washington , Años Barbaros , Miguel and William) , showing splendidly luxurious places such as Hotels , luxury restaurants and glamorous mansions from Madrid . Lively and catching musical score by Manuel Villalta (El Palo , Planta 4, Oro De Moscu , Nada En Nevera ,El Forastero) . The motion picture was compellingly directed by Antonio Cuadri who was born in Huelva (Andalucia) location where he shot his main and big-budgeted film titled ¨The heart of the earth¨ with an international cast . Cuadri is a fine craftsman with some hit , such as this ¨La Gran Vida¨ , ¨Eres Mi Heroe¨ and previously made a documentary titled ¨Riotinto (2004)¨. Nowadays , he only directs TV episodes (Cuentame, Manolito Gafotas , UCO , Todos Hombres Sois Iguales , Al Salir De Clase , among them).
  • Mickey Knox18 October 2002
    I don't know what to say about this movie. In the end I was confused. There are so many very good moments, and yet so many very bad ones, that I don't even know if I liked it or not.

    The idea is very good. A poor bus driver on the verge of killing himself is persuaded by another person to "postpone" his death for a week, borrow 100 million dollars from the Mob and live like the rich men. And after the week is up, when he'll have to pay back the loaned money, he can easily kill himself.

    That's the concept. You have to admit, it's pretty damn interesting. But from this point everything changes.

    Sometimes the characters are very interesting. Both the bus driver and his new love are okay, well built, you get to care from them a lot. They have strong life concepts, opinions about the rich and the poor, and they follow these concepts. But... Sometimes the characters change so much and so fast... it almost becomes awful. Both Lola and Martin are different from one scene to another. And if in Lola's case that's pretty understandable, after you "really" get to know who she is, in Martin's case it's just wrong.

    Sometimes the action is great. Memorable scenes, funny moments, witty dialog. A great, pleasant watch. But... Sometimes the plot holes are bigger then Swiss cheese. There are moments where the characters choose exactly the worst option they have, just because they need to, to keep the plot moving forward. And one of the most interesting themes that could have been used is totally left out: the moments BEFORE Martin's time expires. The scenes could have been great, the tension could have been high. Still we jump exactly to 12:01, and I just felt a bit betrayed.

    Sometimes the actors are great. The guy that plays Martin (which i have never seen before) is very good. Salma Hayek is at her best. They have some sort of weird chemistry between them and everything works fine. But... Sometimes the acting is almost pathetic. Take the "first kiss" scene, for instance. When Salma says "Not today". It was so ridiculously acted, that I actually started laughing out loud. And that's not the only moment.

    All in all, La Gran Vida is an enjoyable movie. An enjoyable movie with pathetic, stupid moments. A great concept that could have been done so much better. Vote: 5 out of 10.
  • A comedy in essence and originally a Mexican movie titled La Gran Vida, Living it up is a fun movie starring Martin (Carmelo Gsmez). A bus driver, Martin is bored with his life. One fine day when he can't take the pressure any more, he stops the bus and runs to the edge of a bridge to commit suicide. Here he meets a mysterious character Salva (Fernando Valverde) who proposes to Martin the perfect way of ending his life — borrow 100 million dollars from the mafia for a week on fifty percent interest markup, live it up and then commit suicide after blowing the cash. In return Salva asks for 15 percent for his services.

    With nothing to lose, Martin accepts the offer and gets the money by offering his life as collateral. He lives lavishly, spends millions at the drop of a hat, throws parties for complete strangers; which is where he meets the lovely Lola (the ravishing Salma Hayek). Martin falls for the waitress only to realize that it's too late for him to back out of his deal. The week is up, the money is gone and he can, in no possible way, repay the outstanding amount as, now, he doesn't want to die.

    Although a dubbed movie, Living it up has seldom a dull moment. The lines are intelligent and director's grip turns it into a thoroughly enjoyable movie. Comes highly recommended for romantic cum thriller buffs though romance exceeds the thrills!
  • Wow, I rented this on a whim just because I'm a huge Salma Hayek fan. I must say, I really enjoyed it. I'm pretty sure most people already know the basic concept of the story (if you didn't you wouldn't be here), so I won't go into it. But I will speak on everything else. The acting all around was very good. Salma was a good choice for the feisty, opinionated Lola, Carmelo Gomez was the perfect choice for the goofy yet lovable Martin. He sort of reminds me of Mathew Perry. And Fernando Valverde was awesome as Salva. The script was very witty, and inventive. Also, the chemistry between Salma and Carmelo was truly special. I also enjoyed the aggressive rhythmic soundtrack. Some people will complain about the third act, and say it is a little to mainstream (read: Hollywood), and maybe it is. But it works! It was totally unpredictable and it resolved the story nicely. La Gran Vida also, makes for a great date movie, if she's into foreign films.
  • jotix1003 September 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    Imagine the dreary life of Martin, a bus driver in Madrid. His job has gotten the best of him, as well as his bored colleagues, but only Martin wants to do something to remedy the situation. When one night he climbs atop a viaduct over a busy intersection, a passerby, Salva, convinces him not to jump. After all, what would he accomplish? Instead, Salva has a different plan for Martin. Why not 'borrow' money from the local mafia. He can have millions with just the promise that he will repay at a high rate. For that, he must go into a clinic, where an old lady, lying on what appears to be her death bed, will decide whether to approve the loan, or not. At the end of the term, the mafia will "take care of him" when he can't come up with the money he owes.

    The new riches brings Martin to a life of luxury. He doesn't care how he spends his money. When he decides to throw a party, he goes all out. A young waitress, Lola, who is let go because of her inefficiency, catches Martin's eye. They begin a whirlwind tour of the fine places in Europe, and Madrid. Lola, it seems, has her own agenda about what to do with Martin's money.

    "Living it Up", this Spanish comedy, has a glossy surface given by its director, Antonio Caudri. What doesn't make much sense is the screen play by Carlos Asorey and Fernando Leon Aranoa, a director, himself. We don't buy for a moment that even the criminal element would consider Martin worthy of a loan they are not to get repaid. Of course, we realize that Salva, is the key figure in the larger scheme of things, and we go along for the fun. The explanation as to why Martin was selected, makes no sense at all! And Lola's role in the whole thing is false from beginning to end.

    The film tried to capitalize having attracted Salma Hayek for the role of Lola. We don't recall this film being released commercially in this country, maybe in some markets, but no big distribution. Ms. Hayek's charm doesn't work miracles for her character, but she is a pleasant presence in the film. Carmelo Gomez, one of Spain's leading actors, has good moments. Best of all is Fernando Valverde who is seen as Salva.

    The film is mildly amusing, but it doesn't make much sense.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Imagine, you feel as though life has lost all meaning. You want to end yours because you see no hope, no exit, no reason to go on living. Then a fairy godfather appears, with an unlikely proposition: I will give you 100 million pesetas (how many dollars is that? About 1 million?). The money will be loaned to you by a firm, which will ask you to refund it within a week, with 50% interest. If you don't refund, they will kill you.

    So instead of dying a quick and painless death, you get to live The Big Life for a week, before dying. So why would you say no? Such is the plot of this movie. Cinderella is Martin, the fairy godmother is Salva and Prince Charming is... wait, should there be a Prince Charming, when you're on the verge of dying?

    Well, that question and others are answered during the course of this movie. The concept is great. It actually reminds me slightly of Brewster's Millions. In a shorter time frame. And with Salma Hayek.

    I thought the movie was fine. The actors were very decent, especially the actor who plays Martin. He has a pitiful face that plays well with the character. Salma Hayek was fine also, as the fiery and sexy Lola. Of course Martin and Lola will fall in love. It will cause Martin to think twice about dying, and set things up for the grand finale.

    *possible spoiler ahead* And I guess the ending is what made me rate this movie a 7 instead of an 8. I can't really say what happens, unfortunately. But I found it somewhat unsatisfying. Too Hollywoodish, I found. But then again, if it is a fairy tale, it should have a happy ending. I'm sure I would have preferred an opera-like ending better.
  • alekdavis13 January 2003
    Warning: Spoilers
    Spoilers The first scenes of the movie look very promising: interesting situation, good character, cinematography... Up until the main character (Martin) is about to jump from the bridge. The rest of the movie is an insult to intelligence.

    First of all, why would the Mafia give Martin $1 M (or whatever amount it was) in the first place? How did they expect him to pay back $1.5 M? What kind of agreement was it? Yes, I know that if he wouldn't pay they would have to kill him, but how did they expect him to pay? Do they just give away money to every stranger? This would be the stupidest (if there is such word) Mafia in the world. OK, since he didn't pay (anyone surprised?), why didn't they kill him immediately? Why didn't they go after Salva, since he introduced Martin to them? Why did Martin start asking for time extension? Was he really hoping to make this amount of money? Why do all characters behave so irrationally and make the worst possible choices? Why are all rich guys shown as perverts? Why does Salma Hayek behave like a brat in the beginning? I can go on, an on, and on. It just does not make sense. I was so irritated by this movie that I stopped the tape after watching for about an hour. I don't even care about the characters and the rest of the story.

    3 out of 10.
  • groggo13 August 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    This ridiculously contrived movie sprawls over almost two hours when it's essentially a 50-minute flick at best, and 'best' is not a good adjective to use in the company of this clunker, which bills itself as a 'comedy'. There might be about two laughs in the entire movie, and they're unintentional. It's also rated 'R' for alleged sexual content, which consists, as far as I could tell, of fleeting scenes of decidedly UNerotic strippers doing what strippers are supposed to do. Other than this questionable titillation, there is no sex in this movie at all. Take away the brief nudity of the strippers, and this is easily a PG flick acceptable for 11 years and younger (they might be the only ones who would enjoy it).

    To try to explain the 'plot' of this movie would be futile: there IS a plot (more or less), but it suffocates under a flurry of red herrings, laborious dialogue and truly forced contrivances. Living It Up (La Gran Vida) is so dumb that I, for one, am left with only one conclusion: it started with what seemed like a good idea, and it went downhill from there. I think a committee was brought in to work on the script, and each member of the committee had a different idea of how the 'story' (you should excuse the expression) should unfold. That's how the movie presents itself: a whacking dog's breakfast of confusion. The viewer is left in befuddled head-scratching throughout. I kept asking the screen: 'what in the name of God is going on here?'

    Salma Hayek is just too ultra-glamorous to be taken seriously as a smart-mouthed member of the lumpen proletariat, which we are somehow expected to believe here. She plays a waitress, but she really isn't a waitress. Carmelo Gomez is a gormless would-be suicide who becomes a jet-setting millionaire, but he really isn't a jet-setting millionaire. Tito Valverde is an agent of the Spanish Mafia who 'arranges' for Gomez to live life to the fullest, except he's really not an agent of the Spanish Mafia.

    You learn all these things in one of the sloppiest, most awkward and self-conscious denouements I have seen in a long time. The 'explanation' is just plain silly, but, of course, don't ya know, everyone lives happily ever after.

    Columbia-Tristar distributed this bomb with fanfare, pretending it was loaded with sexy stuff, explosive hijinks and ripping comedy, when all three commodities just aren't there. I felt cheated spending $3.00 (Canadian) just to rent it. Imagine how the poor saps who paid for premier seats in a theatre felt.

    I can't really buy Hayek in any film she makes. She just isn't believable. She never really acts: she poses, she pouts, she looks gorgeous and tells the camera: 'hey, am I gorgeous or what?'. She's sexy, but you'd never know it from this flick. Gomez and Valverde are good actors who unfortunately end up slumming here. I can only hope they felt embarrassed when they saw the finished product.

    This is the kind of 'European' movie that could drive me back to watching equally stupid Hollywood movies -- at least I wouldn't have to labour over subtitles.