Darren Barefoot
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Cinefile detritus and movie reviews

July 13, 2003

In a summer of Hollywood's crap adaptations, crap sequels and crap romantic comedies, it's refreshing to see a well-made, entertaining American film. Raising Victor Vargas tells the story of a working-class Latin American family in the Lower East side of Manhattan. It's a charming, gentle coming-of-age story, a sort of PG-rated version of Y Tu Mama Tambien.

Victor and his friends' only goal is to get into the pants of various local girls. The girls, who have all the power, spend the film resisting their pathetic and often profane lobbying. Victor's grandmother, the matriarch of their tiny apartment, worries that Victor is a bad influence on his younger brother and sister. The four vie for each other's attention, and for space in the cramped quarters of their lives.

Raising Victor Vargas is a humble film with small, everyday problems. Will she call me or won't she? Will he ever stop bothering me? What if my grandmother catches me masturbating? (That last one may not be a common problem for everybody). No worlds are saved, no villain slain. Still, I enjoyed it more than any other film I've seen since Spellbound. A note on the acting: With the exception of the leaden actress who plays Victor's sister, the cast is very strong, and remarkably naturalistic.

Don't take my word for it, it's doing very well on Metacritic as well. Roger Ebert puts it very well when he says:

It's the kind of movie you know you can trust, and you give yourself over to affection for these characters who are so lovingly observed.

Ebert comments at the end of his review:

Like so many movies dealing intelligently with teenage sexuality, Raising Victor Vargas has been rated R by the MPAA, which awards the PG-13 to comedies celebrating cheap vulgarity, but penalizes sincere expressions of true experience and real-life values.

That's an absurd rating. There's a fair bit of swearing, but no nudity. I'm pleased to report that in Canada, we're more liberal on these matters. This film is rated 14 Years up here in the Great White North.


11:14:57 PM        Movies