Sunday, September 22, 2013

Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)

Y Tu Mama TambienAdult-themed movies are rarely made these days in America, the country which, ironically, is the porn capital of the world. The MPAA's rating system is confusing and often contradictory. No studio wants the dreaded `NC-17' rating because, among other reasons, many newspapers and TV stations won't carry ads for movies so rated. To me, it's a sad, hypocritical situation. Fortunately, other countries do make movies for adults. "Y Tu Mama Tambien" is from Mexico, and, while its graphic depiction of sexual situations may seem startling to American audiences, it is far more honest, compelling and intelligent than its timid, childish American counterparts. ["American Pie" is a perfect example.]

Two teenagers, Julio and Tenoch [Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna] are looking forward to the pleasures of summer. They've just graduated from high school, and their girlfriends are going off to Italy for an extended stay. After biding the girls a fond farewell, the boys set out to have as much fun as they can. At a fancy party, they meet Luisa [Maribel Verdu], the wife of Tenoch's cousin. The pair is smitten by the older woman. Impulsively, they invited her to take a road trip with them to a beach they know called Heaven's Mouth. She politely refuses. Later, when she catches her husband being unfaithful, she announces that she is ready to see the beach. [Her real reason for going is not revealed until the film's final scene.] The problem is that the guys made the beach up. Despite this technical problem, the trio sets out for the long drive to the ocean. At the end of the journey, they find a wonderful surprise. Along the way, Luisa teaches both young men how to treat a woman. They also learn other, more serious lessons about life.

On the surface, this is a comedic `road trip' movie, one of the best ever made. Beneath the surface, there lies a poignant, meaningful coming of age tale.

This lively, well acted and beautifully photographed film is highly recommended for adults but not for children, for whom it was never intended.

In Spanish with English subtitles.

Y Tu Mama Tambien is a road movie directed by Alfonso Cuaron (Great Expectations). Set in Mexico we are introduced to two 17 year old boys having sex with their girlfriends. The girlfriends are about to leave for a trip to Italy so they are looking to get just a little bit more fun in before the trip. They leave, and Tenoch and Julio are left to find their own entertainments. They are part of Mexico�s upper middle class and while at a party (thrown by one of their parents), they meet an older woman (in her late twenties). Not expecting her to accept, they invite Louisa to a fictitious beach called �Heaven�s Mouth�. After learning of her husband�s infidelity, Louisa takes the trip. Tenoch and Julio pretend they know where they are going and head towards a beach they hope will really be there when they get there.

This is a very sexual film, from the opening scenes to the denoument. There is a lot of discussion about sex, a fair amount of sex scenes (graphic and tender at the same time), and this just feels honest. We are not given nudity for the sake of nudity because in this film it feels essential to the ability to tell the story. The camera shows, but doesn�t linger.

The road trip and the development of the characters are extremely well done and the film rises well above the concept of the source material. We see Tenoch and Julio begin to grow up and grow into the men they will likely become. They begin the movie very immature and only looking for sex, drugs, and hanging with their friends. This movie shows the first steps beyond their childhood. Y Tu Mama Tambien could have easily become a Mexican version of American Pie or Road Trip, but this is much, much better. Highly recommended with a warning of a lot of sex and nudity.

Buy Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001) Now

The subtitles aside, it's obvious from the very first scene of Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN that it's not a U.S. production. So, take that, MPAA!

Two Mexican teenaged pals, Julio and Tenoch, have just said goodbye to their respective girlfriends, who are leaving on a vacation to Italy. Now, awash with raging hormones as boys of that age are, they spend their time obsessing about...well, you know...and doing everything possible to keep their reproductive organs occupied. Soon, they meet Luisa, a ten years-older woman married to a distant cousin of one of our heroes. Apparently devastated by her husband's ongoing infidelities, Luisa impulsively agrees to accompany Julio and Tenoch on a drive across country to a mythical beach called Heaven's Mouth. Luisa genuinely wants to see the seashore. We all know what the boys want.

I'd better tell you now that, while Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN is exuberantly erotic, it's not smutty. Or, at least, it shouldn't be in the eye of the beholder unless it's been forgotten what life involves.

The film is, of course, a coming of age story. Luisa's unabashed and uninhibited sexuality puts a predictable strain on the boys' friendship as she tries, at times with great exasperation, to get them to set aside their adolescent callowness (and grow up, for Chrissakes!). But, while the movie is sometimes a comedy and very much a teenaged boy's fevered fantasy, it's more than that. Julio's family is of middle-class affluence, and Tenoch's is simply just rich. In their drive across Mexico, the boys barely notice the poverty and police presence so much a part of the country because their minds are elsewhere. But, the audience sees it, and is reminded of the economic gulf separating societal elements by the occasional voiceover of an unseen narrator. One particularly poignant incident involves the travelers paying a monetary tribute to a rural "queen" in order to pass a roadblock, a garland of flowers stretched across the pavement by poor villagers.

Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN doesn't rate the appellation of "great". The theme has been presented too many times before. But the humanity of it is intensely engaging. The boys, played by Gael Bernal and Diego Luna, are admittedly immature in all the ways that make even girls of the same age roll their eyes in disbelief. But they carry it off with such zest that it's impossible not to like them. And I can testify as a former adolescent boy that Maribel Verdu as Luisa could rightly be the centerfold of the most feverish daydream. However, her role goes much deeper. As the plot unfolds, the audience realizes that the ostensible reason for her leaving her husband isn't what's driving her. When we learn what the real cause is, we are left profoundly sad at the immense tragedy of it.

See this terrific movie, especially if you're the parent of a teen boy and you've forgotten what demons drive a young male of that age. This could be the best foreign film of 2002.

Read Best Reviews of Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001) Here

There will never be an American film like "Y Tu Mama Tambien"--certainly not as long as the Weitz and Farrelly brothers hold sway in Hollywood. Alfonso Cuaron takes the basic plot of a Hollywood teen sex comedy--two rowdy teens take the woman of their dreams on a road trip to the beach--and makes something amazingly nuanced, powerful and moving from it. Middle-class Julio and wealthy, politically connected Tenoch are recent high-school graduates looking forward to a summer of hot sex and getting wasted. At a wedding reception, they meet Luisa, the sexy wife of Tenoch's older cousin, and spin a tall tale about Heaven's Mouth, the beautiful, secluded (and nonexistent) beach where they plan to spend their summer. Nothing more is said about this until--after receiving two very bad pieces of news--Luisa calls Tenoch and tells him she's coming with them. From then on, you get some traditional road-trip horseplay and sexual badinage, but also some things American audiences wouldn't expect, as the trip simultaneously fulfills Julio and Tenoch's brightest dreams and brings their illusions crashing down to earth. A trip that begins in youthful high spirits ends in lasting sorrow and painful self-knowledge. Throughout the movie, Cuaron has an omniscient narrator tell us facts Julio, Tenoch and Luisa never learn about each other; he also has a running commentary on characters the three pass on their way--poor and oppressed Mexicans who will never know the luxuries the protagonists take for granted. The political and class divisions of Mexico are a powerful undercurrent in this movie, adding to its sting and poignancy; the moment in which Tenoch and Julio finally turn their class resentments on each other comes unexpectedly, but inevitably. "Y Tu Mama Tambien" is extremely profane and contains loads of explicit sex--it is emphatically not for the easily offended. But in delineating the narrow lives of his three main characters, Cuaron illuminates universal truths about human nature, with a touch so sure you'd swear that Chekhov had been transplanted to 21st-Century Mexico. Maribel Verdu (Luisa), Gael Garcia Bernal (Julio) and Diego Luna (Tenoch) are superb actors as well as being extremely sexy, and one hopes that more movies starring them will make their way across the border.

Want Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001) Discount?

After consecutively watching two movies from Mexico (Amores Perros and Dona Herlinda & Her Son), I eagerly awaited for Alfonso Cuaron's Y Tu Mama Tambien. I was not disappointed. The Mexican film industry has definitely arrived. This is one gem of a film that deserves all the critical acclaim it has been receiving in film festivals around the world.

You can classify this movie as you wish road movie, coming-of-age tale, may-december interludes, study of a woman in mid-life crisis, sex-starved youth meets lonely woman longing for love and affection but no matter what the tag is, it remains a masterpiece of modern cinema.

The three main leads (Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, and the amazing Maribel Verdu) all deliver knockout performances that led me to a rollercoaster of emotions culminating in two realizations: 1) that life is too short to waste and 2) that life's lessons come to you in the most unexpected situations. Sure, there is sex dotted generously in this 2-hour film, but they are quickly outshadowed by everything else.

While I originally saw Y Tu Mama Tambien during the film festival in Venice, I was fortunate enough to buy a DVD copy of this movie in Hongkong (foreign movies in this format are released much earlier here) and add it to my growing collection of must-see movies.

Watch this one or buy/rent the DVD, you won't be disappointed.

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