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Y Tu Mamá También (Alfonso Cuarón) 2002

    The phenomena that made Alfonso Cuarón’s admittedly funny Y Tu Mama Tambien the most popular film ever to be released in Mexico seems to be awfully similar to the one that made the sophomoric sex comedy American Pie such a hit here in the States. The movie’s certainly as enamored with carnal mechanics as Pie was, and it’s as flat out terrified of male homosexuality as that movie was, too. The serviceable road movie plot follows two pseudo-outsiders during the summer after high school graduation, but in terms of perceptiveness it doesn’t even orbit Ghost World. Perhaps, it’s because this film’s protagonists are Julio and Tenoch, a duo of stoner teen boys that are mainly concerned with getting laid, instead of two intelligent girls that genuinely worry about their place in the world. The ambivalence of the main characters is pointed out time and again by Cuarón’s roaming camera and omniscient voiceovers. Because of the vapidity of the leads, this coming of age tale lacks much in the way of emotional impact. The lead characters are moved profoundly by their experiences, but watching those events did little for me. I’m not saying that stupid people can’t have moments of insight… just that watching them as they’re having them doesn’t profoundly move me.


    After the duo becomes a trio, thanks to the accompaniment of Luisa (Maribel Verdú), a Spaniard that leaves her cheating husband to join the boys on a trip to the beach, the film attempts to throw a bit of weightiness into the mix. Poorly aping the New Wave classic Jules & Jim, the movie stumbles time and again because of Cuarón’s ham fisted approach. The aforementioned voiceovers are used so often that they lose impact. They attempt to tell us the hidden truths that lie just outside the frame, but as the characters in the film observe, the truth is a nice ideal, but also unattainable. With this perception of truthfulness, the political context that their escapist story is placed into basically boils down to the not at all shocking revelation that affairs of state don’t always operate as they appear to. The pot-fueled manifesto that the boys create is supposed to show how silly political agenda is, but it’s the very definition of weak-minded satire. Worse yet, the narration manages to erase the few subtleties of character that crop up when it explicitly reveals the motivations behind the characters’ actions.


    Explicit (and not raunchy) is probably the most appropriate word to describe the film’s sex scenes as well. Like the voice-overs, though, the initially refreshing feeling caused by their candor eventually is numbed because of their overuse. Also, the film seems to want us to think that these scenes are funny and sexy, but they felt more sad and pathetic to me than anything, suggesting there’s a difference between the level of sexual explicitness and the level of sexual maturity. In any case, the obviously manipulative plot muffles any approximation of emotional reality that these scenes help stir up. When Luisa melodramatically asks “Don’t you wish you could live forever?” she might as well cough up blood. Instead of an ending that suggests the things learned during the film will lead toward a revolution of sorts, the movie retreats into complacency and mock wisdom. Perhaps the lower degree of difficulty chosen to end the film with is preferable, because I doubt the cast would be up to a greater challenge. Verdú, in particular, fails to convey the mix of heartbreak and betrayal that her character must feel. Her moments of hurt simply don’t. As the film rattles along like the car that moves the characters closer to their paradise, further layers of the truth continue to be revealed. Unfortunately, Y Tu Mamá También has a great distance to go before that truth becomes enlightening. 



Jeremy Heilman