Franchi and Ingrassia play themselves as usual, off to wait tables at a Fellini's Satyricon themed party. Before you can say "don't drop that jug of wine", they 'wake up' way back B.C., still dressed in their little slave outfits. The real mystery here is why they didn't start the film in Roman times in the first place as the pop culture references are not just limited to the supposed time travelers. Still, some of the wittiest jokes involve street signs and sight gags: the first thing we see is a license plate on a cart and wagon. All roads lead to Rome (via footage borrowed from a much more expensive movie) and they immediately save Emperor Nero from food poisoning. Forced to join a spy origination that uses a secret slap in the face instead of a secret handshake, they are dressed as barbarians by their new boss, whom we shall refer to as 'M', and sent off to a tavern for more time misplacement jokes.
Enter seventies sex-ploitation babes Edwige Fenech and Karin Shubert (in untypically unrevealing roles), who are looking for a couple of Normen to get rid of their husbands. Edwige is married to the emperor and Karin to 'M', I think. You don't normally have to use your brain this much during these Franco and Ciccio flicks. Everybody is double- and triple crossing each other and hatching murder plots. After Edwige bathes in milk, F & C add some coffee to it to make cappuccino. Hahaha. Set on performing at a Festivalius, Claudio Nero has had all the other contestants murdered beforehand. To our surprise the real barbarian cutthroats arrive, but luckily there are enough Centurion uniforms lying around for our bumbling fools to save their mighty ruler once more.
By now the Romans are revolting, Karin is swimming in champagne and Nero's heroes have to make sure Rome is burning. Yes, every epic cliché is accounted for in just under 90 minutes (did the writers use a stack of Asterix comic books for reference?). After a mock trial at the Roman High Court, it's time to throw our protagonists to the lions. Having managed to restrain himself for over an hour of film, Franco finally lets loose with his usual Jerry Lewis face hugging during the Gladiatorial combat. He and Ciccio take turns fighting familiar 'Sword and Sandal' film actors in this sequence, that unfortunately turned out neither as funny or exciting as intended. But they might still be accidentally spared by a thumb in order to escape into to a predictable coda back in present times.
6 out of 10
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