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4 Latas

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
4 Latas Movie Poster Image
Road trip with laughs and tears; drinking, drugs, cursing.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 104 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Families can be made up of people who aren't biologically connected. Determination, courage, and a bit of good luck can result in reaching one's goals.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Leading characters, while far from perfect, exhibit perseverance, teamwork, compassion, and integrity. Female protagonist provers herself equal to her male counterparts in terms of determination, resourcefulness, and empathy. Ethnic diversity.

Violence

A mild fight includes spitting and throwing. Suspense and menace are provided by an old feud, which endangers the heroes. A drug-seeking dog is threatening.

Sex

Couple explores a sexual relationship by kissing, beginning to undress, passionately embracing as camera moves off, assumption of sexual intercourse. A drunken party shows men and women cavorting, dancing sensually. Breasts and a bare male butt are glimpsed. Talk of infidelity, erections. 

Language

Frequent profanity includes: "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "balls," "bastard." References to bodily functions (i.e., diarrhea, poop, pee). Male characters pee purposefully on a radiator to prevent fire.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One lead character is an alcoholic. Drinking throughout. Hashish is smoked in multiple scenes. Characters get drunk and stoned and smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that 4 Latas (aka 4L) is a Spanish comedy with English subtitles that follows a makeshift family in a precarious car trip across the Sahara Desert. Along with humor based both on character and incident, there are poignant, even sad moments. Viewers can expect some suspenseful scenes, life-and-death moments, a fang-baring drug dog, and threats from a menacing villain. (Spoiler alert -- a death occurs.) An intimate scene shows a young man and woman discovering one another sexually; they kiss, embrace, begin to undress. It's clear that sex occurs, though not on screen. Additionally, there's sensual dancing and bare breasts during a raucous party scene; as well as two glimpses of male butts. One of the main characters is an alcoholic who drinks continuously and smokes hashish with gusto as well. Others drink, use hash, use pills, and smoke cigarettes. Swearing and profanity ("bastard," "f--k," "s--t") is frequent. In addition, there are references to and scenes showing bodily functions (diarrhea, pee, poop, vomiting, and farting).

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What's the story?

As 4 LATAS begins, Tocho (Hovik Keuchkerian), a rough, alcohol-infused citizen of Bilboa, Spain, receives a letter telling him that Joseba (Enrico San Francisco), an old friend, is dying in Timbuktu. Deeply touched and nostalgic, Tocho travels to France where he enlists another old friend, Jean Pierre (Jean Reno), the owner of a vineyard, to join him on a trip to say goodbye to their beloved Joseba. Jean Pierre somewhat tentatively agrees, and the two men next visit Joseba's estranged daughter Ely (Susana Abaitua) to ask her to join them. To their amazement, Ely reveals that the old 1982 Renault that the three friends once drove across the Sahara Desert has been carefully preserved in her garage. She accepts their offer, if they'll drive in the Renault from Spain to Timbuktu once again. With fond memories of their youthful adventures, Jean Pierre and Tocho agree to recreate the journey with Ely in tow. But the men and the car are older now, and times have changed. What was once a caper of unlimited freedom turns out to be a journey fraught with accidents, near-death moments, and encounters with a number of strange and possibly dangerous people who may wish them harm.

Is it any good?

Spanish director Gerardo Olivares beautifully integrates laughter and pathos, along with some risky, suspenseful moments, to create a warmhearted, satisfying movie about reconnection and redemption. Working once again with Jean Reno as he did so successfully in the wonderful Brothers of the Wind, Olivares makes the most of the scale and grandeur of the location, in this case, the Sahara Desert. The conflict and threatening events (bandits, border interrogations, a villain from their past) are familiar ones, but the uniqueness of the characters, especially for American audiences, gives the movie its unconventional specialness. 4 Latas is escapist fun with wonderful performances, though tempered by enough heartbreak to give it emotional heft.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how 4 Latas depicts drinking and drug use. Are there consequences for Tocho that are a direct result of his drinking and smoking hashish? Why is that important?

  • Many stories are about folks who bond to make an atypical kind of family. How do the people in this movie form a unique family? What are the qualities that make families work?

  • In Spanish, the most common usage of the word latas means cans (tins). What is the significance of the title? Does it relate simply to the car, or perhaps to the characters? Why?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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