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Y Tu Mama Tambien

A movie directed by Alfonso Cuarón

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It's not Porn if it Has Subtitles, Right?

  • Oct 26, 2002
Pros: lots of sex, drugs, and liquor. funny

Cons: if you're a prude...

The Bottom Line: 'It must be the heat.'

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

Last night, Y Tu Mama Tambien was playing in my university's film series. I'd never seen the cinema so packed. Hundreds of students packed the theatre and dozens more queued outside. No doubt everyone had heard that this film features a lot of sex. That's certainly why my friends and I shelled out our $3.

Knowing that my grandparents' friends had walked out on this film, I had high expectations for its raunchiness. Yes, there is a lot of sex (5 sex scenes, one masturbation scene, and one shower scene) and a decent amount of nudity, but I wasn't shocked by any of it. Nor was I particularly turned on, although it was fun to be in an auditorium full of cheering students when the thing everyone has been hoping will happen finally does. (I don't want to ruin anything... but the final sex scene is far more interesting than the others.)

When this film ended, the first thing I said to my friends (OK, so I might have actually said, "Woo!" or "Lord have mercy!" or something, but my first coherent thought) was "That movie really didn't have much of a plot. But I really didn't mind." With two attractive men, an attractive woman, and lots of drugs and sex, who needs a plot?

The basic plot revolves around Tenoch (Diego Luna) and Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal), two 17-year-old Mexican boys whose girlfriends have gone to Europe to travel for the summer. Tenoch's father is an influential figure in Mexico city so important that the president of Mexico attend's Tenoch's sister's wedding. Julio is more middle class. At the sister's wedding the two best friends meet Luisa (Maribel Verdu) who is married to Tenoch's cousin. At the beginning of the film, a lot of characters and facts are presented, but the only three who really matter are Tenoch, Julio, and Luisa.

Luisa is originally from Spain, and she works as a dental technician. Tenoch and Julio are under the impression that she is a philosopher or psychologist and seem slightly disappointed that she just "sucks drool" out of people's mouths. At the wedding, Tenoch and Julio flirt madly with Luisa and brazenly invite her to go to a non-existent beach called "Heaven's Mouth" with them. Luisa has no intention of going, but seems flattered by the cute boys' attention. She changes her mind when she receives a phone call from her very drunk husband confessing that he has slept with another woman. As a result, Luisa leaves her husband and embarks on a road trip with the two 17-year-olds.

Although the sex scenes are fairly graphic, they are brief, which is part of the point of the film. The boys think that they are studs, but Luisa teaches them that they leave a lot to be desired in terms of technique and longevity.

The boys have a tight-knit group of friends with a "manifesto" dictating the rules in their relationship. One of the guidelines is that sleeping with each other's girlfriends is forbidden. However, the boys' girlfriends seem interchangeable, and they both want to sleep with Luisa. At one point, Luisa makes the perceptive comment that maybe the boys actually want to get it on with each other. This is further hinted at during the scene in which the boys masturbate while lying on diving boards and at several other points in the film. Rule #7 in the manifesto is "Whacking off rules." It is this caliber of jokes that make this movie fun to watch in a large group that will react to crass humor.

Swimming and water play a large role in the aesthetic of this film. The boys enjoy competing with each other in swimming races-- sometimes naked--and Luisa longs to go to the beach and loves showering. There are two crucial scenes involving towels.

The two male leads' acting is excellent as they portray arrogant but, ultimately, clueless teenagers. Luisa hopes she can change them by teaching them a thing or two about life and sex, but ends up disappointed, as the boys don't appear to progress much. Her emotions in response to her break-up with her husband seem right on target, as well.

The director Alfonso Cuarón does have a rather annoying technique of telling rather than showing in terms of character development and plot. He relies much too much on voice-over narration. Also, the bits where the trio is driving around gets kind of monotonous, as is their swapping of stories of sexual escapades, which may or may not be true.

Also, it didn't seem like this movie had a lot of symbolism or meaning. It was mainly an adolescent, male fantasy of taking a sexy, older woman on a road trip and having sex with her. The conflicts are mainly between the two boys, and Luisa's character is not very well-developed. Presumably, she goes with the boys to get revenge on her husband, but we don't learn very much about who she is. Some of the boys' friends seem like very interesting characters, but the director only mentions them briefly. For example, one of them is gay, and the boys' reaction to this is very interesting.

Overall, it seems that this film tried to do too much, but ended up not really accomplishing anything except showing that 17-year-olds don't make very good lovers.

The cinematography can be a bit shaky at times, as this film is fairly low-budget. Some of the shots of beautiful landscapes could have been quite striking had they been film using better quality materials.

The title of this movie translates to "And Your Mama, Too." And, in case you hadn't guessed by now, it's in Spanish with English subtitles.

Alfonso Cuarón is slated to direct the third Harry Potter movie. Be afraid, be very afraid.


Video Occasion: Good for Groups
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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More Y Tu Mamá También reviews
Quick Tip by . May 04, 2010
Surprisingly good Yet Brilliantly simple...
review by . December 02, 2009
posted in Reel Overseas
Where to begin? Superficially, it's a fantastic sex comedy/road trip movie/coming of age film, some of the most well-worn genres in filmmaking, but chances are the viewer won't even notice that it fits into those genres. The performances of the three leads are uniformly magnificent, and the drama, or even melodrama, never seems forced, and leads to a climax that's shocking, funny, necessary, joyous, and tragic all at once.       But that initial description doesn't even get into …
review by . November 02, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Maribel Verdù lights up the screen in   this casually photographed and gritty-pretty  road movie. Comparisons to Sonia Braga   will inevitably be made and they won't be  wrong.   Two teenage boys borrow a   car for a road trip and miraculously find  themselves bringing along the slightly  older woman of every teenaged boy's   dream. Verdù is impossibly delicious but  somehow approachable: a believable …
review by . October 26, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN is yet another example (like AMORES PERROS) of how the films from Mexico have a unique style that is maturing rapidly. The pace of this tour de force of the effects of testosterone on young lads is breathless, so much so that the viewer yearns for the moments of stillness that do come and are all the more poignant for there role as relief. Much praise has been heaped on this film and I think for the most part it is well deserved. There is not the sophistication of the films from …
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This beautifully filmed, expertly acted movie about two 17-year-old, middle-class Mexican boys on summer break is deceivingly complex. The basic plot of the film is that best friends Tenoch (Diego Luna, BEFORE NIGHT FALLS) and Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal, AMORES PERROS), who think of nothing but sex, convince a beautiful 28-year-old woman, Luisa (Maribel Verdu), to go on a road trip with them to a nonexistent beach. They get lost. They flirt and giggle and fawn over Luisa hoping to win her over with their boyish charms. And that's about it. But that simple plotline merely provides structure for the poetry and meaning that is woven into the film with photography and narration. Periodically throughout the film, while the action continues normally, the sound stops. A voice over then gives information--sometimes a brief biography of one of the characters (birth date, name of father and mother, consequences of birth, primary childhood experiences), or a note about what each of the characters is really thinking...
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