Much like 'Quinceanera' before it, `How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer' is a deliberate movie with a gentle heart. The movie zeroes in on three generations of Hispanic women in the titled family whose ambivalence about men finds them grappling for much needed tenderness in their lives.
Lolita Garcia (Elizabeth Pena) faces her fortieth birthday. She works at a neighborhood delicatessen where fellow worker, Jose Luis's (Rick Majera) lecherous interest has her as jaundiced about men as her ex-husband. Hitting on her from the other side of the counter is Victor (Steven Bauer), a macho man who's marriage vows go the wayside with every possible conquest.
Lolita is the central figure at home, which is really owned by her mother, Dona (America Ferrera) who wants to learn late in life how to drive a car. Don Pedro (Jorge Cervera) an older gentleman volunteers to teach her and opens up to her a world of opportunities, not just to travel independently, but to rediscover herself. Blanca Garcia (America Ferrera) is her coming-of-age daughter who mingles on the streets with her friends, as they watch the boys (Leo Minaya and Victor Wolf) try to pick them as they pass by in their truck.
Intermittently, a group of elderly men sitting on a street corner make reflections in Spanish of past glory days with girls and cars. A Greek chorus of sorts, the men speak on behalf of the wolve-like ways of men.
The movie draws from 'Volver' in tone and themes as it delivers a "can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em" attitude from the women. The acting is as believable as life itself. While some of the jokes have a thoughtful excellence, the film moves like an overly slow sled. Tenderness surely isn't achieved by any deadline, and it's refreshing that they don't take their affairs lightly, but the film's editing could have tightened up their story.
A J.P.'s Pick 3*'s-Good
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