Starring: Claudio Bisio, Alessandro Siani, Angela Finocchiaro
Director: Luca Miniero
Running Time: 110 mins
Welcome To The North (Benvenuti al nord) is an Italian film and the sequel to Welcome To The South. After returning to Milan, Alberto recruits Mattia to come and work at the postal headquarters in the city. However, with a brand-new postal initiative swamping them both at work, they struggle to save time for the most important people in their lives.
Given how much of a smash hit Welcome To The South was, following up in similarly spectacular fashion was always going to be difficult for Welcome To The North, however the original’s infectiously funny sense of humour was a reason to look forward to more misadventures.
In the end, Welcome To The North, while a perfectly enjoyable addition to the original, really lacks the same heart and depth that the first film stand out so much, and although it features a good few laughs here and there, it still doesn’t quite have that chaotically funny brand of comedy that left me laughing from start to finish last time out.
Let’s start off on that point, because there is still a lot to laugh at here, even if it isn’t quite on the riotously funny level of its predecessor. With a good basis of likable and energetic characters, the film gets off to an equally enjoyable start as the last one, poking its nose into every little cultural clash between the Italian north and south and blowing it up to ridiculous proportions as we see the southerners as the fish out of water this time.
If you’ve seen the first film, or know about Italy otherwise, then the film’s comedic reliance on the Italian north-south divide won’t be any barrier to entry for you (opposite to the rather inaccessible Spanish Affair for viewers from outside the country). If not, then it may be a little more difficult to get accustomed to than is the case for the first film, but it still proves clear and central enough to the story that you can relate it well to divisions in your own country and laugh along anyway.
Where the film falls short, however, is in its over-reliance on this one topic for its comedy and intrigue. The first film, too, was heavy on poking fun at the north-south divide, but it was often more ridiculous and hyperbolic in playing up the cultural differences, while it also employed real character depth and drama to engross you into a film that’s actually more than a simple comedy.
Welcome To The North, on the other hand, is a far more basic and formulaic comedy, and really lacks the same powerful heart and emotion of the first film. Part of that is down to the fact that the tensions and clashes of the first film simply aren’t as present this time around, but it’s also because this sequel gives too much attention to some of the more generic cultural differences, without the same irreverent fascination for all things north-south divide as the last film.
As a result, the humour can get a little repetitive, and while lead actors Claudio Bisio and Alessandro Siani’s chemistry means that there’s always good comedic energy on display, I never found myself enjoying this film to the same riotous degree as Welcome To The South, and that’s what ultimately makes it quite a lot weaker than the original film, which is why I’m giving Welcome To The North a 7.2 overall.