El-Limby 8GB: The limp comeback

Eight years after the release of the vehicle that made him a household name–which was then followed by a handful of sequels amounting to little more than jacked-up variations on the same character–actor Mohamed Saad strains to reinvigorate his fading career with a feeble return to the big screen as the nation’s most annoying, hyper-animated but ultimately endearing village idiot, el-Limby.

In the flimsiest of plots, the movie starts with el-Limby, for no good reason, being granted a license to practice law. After a series of predictably cartoonish mishaps in which Saad untiringly horses around in the courtroom, we abruptly transition to witness a mad-scientist brand of physician planting a chip into el-Limby’s arm. The chip, a veritable miracle of low-tech ingenuity which, when activated, sounds suspiciously similar to Windows XP starting, contains the civil records of the nation’s entire citizenry, and el-Limby capitalizes on this goldmine of information to become a star defense attorney.

But then he gets greedy; he decides to defend the big-fish crooks. However, since the chip’s capacity is limited (presumably to 8GB), he must abandon all memories of his former self, and with them, all association with his loved ones, in order to upload the data.

As if this narrative wasn’t messy enough, the viewer is constantly assaulted by the introduction of random plot lines that end up going nowhere: El-Limby desperately wants to conceive a child with his wife, he hates his filthy rich brother-in-law and blanks out on a week spent with him and his family in the North Coast, he’s terrorized into defending the murderous son of a provincial thug, and that’s just during the first twenty minutes of the movie.

No attempt is made at the most minimal of face-saving progressions, let alone actual creative storyline development. The screenwriters–if that term even applies here–simply couldn’t wait to drop their pens once they hit the requisite 120-page mark, probably relying on what they considered Saad’s alchemical comedic genius to weave gold out of the dirge they managed to discharge.
El-Limby’s wife, played by the comely Mai Ezz Eddin, who functions as the film’s eye-candy and is affectionately head-butted by her husband when she nags him too much about their failure to procreate, anchors the movie, to the best of her ability, in some semblance of reality. It’s her reactions that invest Saad’s clowning with a vague whiff of credibility, although her obvious attempts to ingratiate herself with the audience are unappealing. Ezz Eddin’s responses to Saad’s heavy-handed buffoonery are limited strictly to how she imagines good, morally-upright middle-class girls are expected to behave.

Saad, typically, has to strain to squeeze out the laughs from the bankrupt script. He spastically gyrates his hips to punctuate jokes and, as has become his trademark, bulges his eyes out to the point where you can hear his optic nerves shriek. The improvised one-liners he comes up with are, as expected, the movie’s saving grace, so the price of admission should translate into at least three solid guffaws. The outlandish surprise ending must also be seen to be believed, if only for the shock value.  

Occasionally, viewers will actually witness a fading glimmer of real drama–and Saad’s surprising emotional range. The tragedy of the couple not being able to bear children, for instance, or when el-Limby has a genuine character-defining moral choice to make near the film’s end, may hold the audience rapt for a moment, but like the morning mist or our main character’s integrity, they evaporate before taking any substantial form.  

This could have been an amazing comeback for Saad, who has never lacked heart or hustle. After three tepid quasi-sequels that milked his schtick, a powerful return to the original character that put him on the map could have easily dominated the local summer box office.

The media has already held court though, and the verdict wasn’t favorable. This is a time-wasting flick for diehard fans only, and even they would be advised to inebriate themselves excessively prior to viewing. 

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