Botte di Natale - Troublemakers Review
From The Spaghetti Western Database
Sometimes referred to as Trinity III, this was Hill & Spencer’s come back western. It was supposed to mark the 25th anniversary of the Trinity movies. While the film was in pre-production, Enzo Barboni expressed his wish to direct it, but for some reason the two stars decided to do it all by themselves, that is: with the help of some of their relatives. Hill directed, his wife scripted, and Spencer’s son co-produced. Apparently Barboni had some rights to the names Trinity and Bambino, and prevented Hill from using them for his movie. One year later he would come up with his own come back western, Trinità & Bambino... e adesso tocca a noi (Trinity and Bambino… and now it’s our turn, released outside Italy as Sons of Trinity).
Instead of Trinity and Bambino, Hill and Spencer play brothers called Travis and Moses. Hill is still the fastest gun in the West and Spencer still hits people on the head. But other elements have been changed: Hill is no longer a dirty and lazy rogue, travelling the West on a travois, but a well-dressed bounty hunter, performing the Blondie & Tuco trick from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly with a guy called Sam Stone; Spencer is no longer a horse thief, but a married man, the father of an awful lot of children (he thinks eight, others say ten). It seems Hill wanted to stay as close to the old myth and – at the same time - to stay away from it as far as possible. According to Spencer, this is exactly was went wrong with it. “We were always two no-goods who ended up helping the poor, if you give a character like mine eight or ten kids he’s no longer believable.” Hill admitted that he (and his wife) modeled the Travis character more after Hill’s part in My Name is Nobody, because they considered Nobody, not Trinity, to be the more essential and mythical character of the two.
If the Trinity movies were family movies, Troublemakers is a kiddie movie. The jokes are closer to the Punch and Judy than to Trinity and Bambino, and some of the sentimental moments are downright embarrassing. There are a few good verbal jokes (like Hill saying, when he overslept: “I didn’t hear the rooster,” and Spencer answering: “I ate it“), but it’s probably only passable if you take it as some kind of homage to the actors or the good old days. The story is more or less as follows. The boys’ mother wants to have both of her sons around her at Christmas, and sends Travis a letter, asking him to pick up Moses and his wife and children on the way home. A grumpy Moses reluctantly chimes in with the idea, but keeps of course grumbling all the way. Their mother has promised to hand over the family treasure to her sons on Christmas Eve, and this rumour has also reached the ears of Sam Stone, who heads for the family ranch to lay his hands on the money. In the end the real treasure turns out to be the family reunion on Chrismas Eve, and everybody seems to live happily ever after … except those who are forced to watch this turkey.
Hill stills looks good at the age of 55 but as a director he even blows some promising sequences with a lack of timing and the addition of silly jokes (such as a dog biting in Travis’ ankles when he wants to shoot the rope). Spencer is even ten years older, and has become so fat and indolent that you feel sorry for his opponents, who still have to fall like flies when he hits them. Only in one scene his full weight is used to good effect: when he’s about to be hanged, Travis doesn’t need to perform the Blondie trick of shooting the rope, since the entire hanging construction isn’t able to carry Moses’ weight. It’s a well-executed, funny scene, a scarce highlight in an otherwise terribly disappointing movie.