Y Tu Mama Tambien

Peeing DogRated: R
Stars:   Maribel Verdu, Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal
Director:    Alfonso Cuarón
Screenwriters:   Alfonso Cuarón, Carlos Cuarón

Y Tu Mamá También (And Your Mother Too) is a road picture out of Mexico from director Alfonso Cuarón. It’s his first Spanish-language film in 10 years and he’s best known in the United States for his last film, Great Expectations, starring Robert De Niro and Ethan Hawke.

On that note, I have to say that I had great expectations for this so-called “coming of age” film, but to tell you the truth, the only thing that ages here is the audience. I found it marred by acting and directing lapses and totally unnecessary voice over narration that adds nothing to our understanding of the characters. So, why all the buzz as if this were some great pic? A sex-obsessed (yet very meager) plot that relies heavily upon full frontal nudity, graphic simulated intercourse and its variations. Sex sells, as if you never heard that one before … and Hollywood tends to have a knee-jerk reaction to such bold expressions, no matter how poorly executed. There is nothing compelling to either story or character. Nobody grows and nothing especially dramatic happens. The epilogue is a throwaway scene trying to add significance to a story that has none.

The gist: While their girlfriends go off on an Italian vacation, two teenage boys, Tenoch (Diego Luna) and Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal), can find nothing better to do with their time than talk trash, jerk around and and jerk off. One day, while attending a family wedding, they reacquaint themselves with the wife of Tenoch’s cousin. Her name is Luisa and they are so taken with her that they impulsively invite her to accompany them on a trip to a beautiful beach that doesn’t actually exist. Days later, when Luisa discovers that her husband has been unfaithful, she accepts the invitation which forces the boys to find a location that lives up to their hyped-up description. And with that, off they go in a borrowed car. From that point on, it’s a several-days long road trip mostly filled with frank talk about sex and little else staged through the Mexican back country. They overnight in local inns and between Luisa’s crying episodes over her lousy husband, she does what she thinks is expected of her. She engages in sex with each of the boys under the guise of teaching them how to be more sensitive lovers. Nothing about their behavior indicates that these guys could ever evolve in that area. Her actions and what the boys eventually reveal to each other about their sexual relationships with their girlfriends lead to a three-way rift that resolves itself weakly at the beach.

One glaring example of poor acting: Lead actress Maribel Verdú sits on a bed in her underwear, doing nothing but looking stupid — she’s obviously waiting for something – then you realize she’s waiting for the phone to ring – not as the character expecting a call but as an actress who’s too limited in talent for figure out some behavior for her character to perform as she waits. The scene also doesn’t say much about the director who let her sit there looking stupid. Additionally, the director had a tendency to hang incessantly on secondary characters, like a maid and an old woman, just walking up a flight of stairs or across a room.

Lotta says this can’t possibly be the best foreign film in 2002, as some suggest. Rated R for graphic sex, nudity, profanity, drug use.