A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that 3 Idiotas is a Mexican remake (in Spanish, with English subtitles) of a popular 2009 Indian comedy called 3 Idiots. It centers on a group of college kids who follow a charismatic young leader and is a mix of romance, mystery, pranks, positive messages (about loyalty, courage, admitting mistakes, and following your passion), and extensive potty humor. Most of the jokes come from a villain who has a penchant for farting -- in a manner that's loud, putrid, and frequent. Entire sequences center on the hapless, nasty fellow as he fouls the world around him. You can also expect some slapstick falls (into water, from a balcony), a pedestrian being injured by a car, a character's penis getting electrically shocked (off screen), and a girl who chokes but is quickly revived. A few of the young characters are revealed to have suffered severe loss as children. There's some social drinking, once to excess, as well as kissing, ogling of breasts/cleavage, and language along the lines of "butt" and "damn."
What's the story?
Two longtime friends are summoned by a longtime enemy at the opening of 3 IDIOTAS. Isidoro (Vadhir Derbez), an obnoxious techno-tycoon, tells his former college classmates that he's found Pancho (Alfonso Dosal), another classmate, who has been missing for years after disappearing just before graduation. Other than being forced to accompany the odious Isidoro on the road trip to reunite with their friend, Beto (German Valdes) and Felipe (Christian Vasquez) are joyful at the prospect of seeing Pancho again. On the way, flashbacks tell the story of their college years: their meeting, their roles as the incorrigible cut-ups in the engineering school, and Pancho's great romance with Mariana (Martha Higareda), a prickly teacher's daughter who was an outstanding scholar herself. Over the course of the long drive, each young man's individual tale and its resolution is revealed -- as is Mariana's -- but the mystery of Pancho still waits to be solved.
Is it any good?
Juvenile humor of the flatulent kind upends what might otherwise have been a romantic, insightful comedy with engaging actors and much to say about finding your place and heart in a chaotic world. There are corny moments in 3 Idiotas, to be sure, but, as one character, says, "Life is corny." And the film is so good-natured and the issues so familiar and heartfelt that it almost works.
As Mariana and Pancho, Dosal and Higareda play characters who are too perfect to be real and yet too admirable to ignore. And it's nice to see a range of socioeconomic classes in this Mexican counterpart of an American college town. Bottom line? It's ridiculous on one hand and enjoyable on the other.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about 3 Idiotas' style of comedy. What makes lowbrow/"potty" humor appealing? Why do different kinds of comedy appeal to different people?
In what ways could this film be described as a "fairy tale"? Which character is designed to assume the role of the beautiful princess or handsome prince? Which player represents the dragon, evil king, or wicked stepmother?
How do movies transcend borders? What common experiences and relationships do the characters in this Mexican community share with American young people? How closely do the characters resemble folks that you know?
- In theaters: June 2, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: September 26, 2017
- Cast: Martha Higareda, Alfonso Dosal, Christian Vazquez
- Director: Carlos Bolado
- Studio: Videocine
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
- Run time: 106 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some rude humor and brief strong language
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