Elly Baly Balak (2003, Egypt)

Elly Baly Balak - Mohammed Saad as El Lembi

I was given this movie by someone who lovingly brought it back for me from Jordan. It doesn’t have subtitles and my Arabic is really, really poor. Really poor. I’m told, though, that the title translates (a little obtusely) as ‘Tell me my thoughts without you.’ It could be a wonderful comedy, or it could be awful; I have no idea.

Mohammad Saad plays both El Lembi, a crook who apparently keeps robbing his uncle and winds up in jail, and Riyad El-Manfaloti, the prison’s imposing Warden. El Lembi manages to escape, buried under vegetables in the back of a truck. He jumps on a motorbike and, as luck would have it, is pursued by his Doppelgänger Warden. They crash and both wind up in the same hospital. It’s not clear why, but the hospital, after making remarkably small incisions in their heads, switch their brains.

Riyad El-Manfaloti promptly returns to the prison but with El Lembi’s transplanted brain. He arm wrestles prisoners, laughs and jokes loutishly, walks around with his hand in his pockets and his uniform undone, and makes a speech at a big formal occasion which I suspect is not entirely appropriate for a big formal occasion. And then there’s his new brain’s reaction to his wife…

At least, that’s what I think happens. I can’t really rate it, but it looks OK if you like the trading places, trading brains sort of comedy. I suspect it’s not high-brow. I’d be grateful if someone who actually understands the movie could set me straight.

Elly Baly Balak #2 - El Lembi escaping under vegetables Elly Baly Balak #3 - The Warden,

Posted on January 28th, 2010 at 10:09 pm. Updated on March 9th, 2016 at 3:52 pm.

#406 in the Top 500

2 Responses to “Elly Baly Balak (2003, Egypt)”

  1. January 16th, 2012 at 5:44 pm
    Shaymaa Elkadi says:

    A very funny movie but of course you need to be egyptian to get the very quirky jokes. I haven’t figured out the connection betweeen the movie title and the movie but here goes…”Elly Bally Ballak” is a very egyptian expression which almost parallels “hint hint wink wink” in Aussie terms…It may be that this is linked to the switching of the brains between the prisoner and the prison warden but who knows! El Lemby is a recurring character featuring in a number of other egyptian movies. He is perhaps Egypt’s own Jerry Lewis….He’s very popular having had a number of movie blockbusters over the years. This in fact may have been one of them!…. Although unexpectedly I did enjoy the movie, a great one for the holidays!

  2. January 16th, 2012 at 8:54 pm
    eric says:

    Thanks, Shaymaa. Glad to know that there were more jokes than just that quirky brain-swapping thing.

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