A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A La Mala is a Spanish-language romantic comedy about a woman who makes a living coming on to other women's boyfriends to test their faithfulness. There's tons of heavy flirting, with the female lead using her body to tempt men. And characters seem to think about sex almost nonstop, with innuendo, shirtless men/close ups of appealing body parts, kissing, and implied sex (no graphic nudity). Language is infrequent but does include subtitled uses of "s--t," "ass," and more. Characters frequently drink socially, with no consequences. In some ways the main character is admirable for her ambition to find an acting role that's worthy of her intelligence and talent, rather than just her body, but she also uses her body to manipulate men. Men who are faithful to their partners are prized, and unfaithful ones aren't, but both men and women are sometimes treated as sexual objects.
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What's the story?
Maria Laura Medina (Aislinn Derbez), who's called "Mala" (or "cruel") by her friends, is an aspiring actress, often losing roles after criticizing them during auditions. Her best friend/roommate, Kika (Papile Aurora), asks Mala to use her feminine wiles to determine whether Kika's boyfriend is faithful, paying her for the job. Word gets out, and Mala starts earning money from other women who want their own men "tested." But trouble comes when one of her targets turns out to be a producer she previously tangled with on an audition. She begins to see his good side and eventually falls in love with him. Unfortunately, if Mala bungles this task, she'll lose her first good acting job in the process.
Is it any good?
The Mexican romantic comedy A LA MALA is entirely conventional, and if it had been made in English, it likely would have been a waste of time. But perhaps because it's in Spanish, or perhaps because of Derbez' charisma, it generates enough charm and goodwill -- if not exactly laughs -- to ride pleasantly off into the sunset. The cliches start with the use of a goofy "sidekick," as well as the presence of a blandly handsome leading man (who doesn't generate much heat with his lovely lady -- the movie is far less sexy than it could have been). And it all quickly degenerates into a standard "lie" plot.
But Derbez generates intelligence and dignity in her role; Mala fights for a role worthy of her acting talents, rather than taking insultingly shallow or sexist parts. She's savvy in the ways of seduction but appealingly clueless when it comes to romance. Director Pedro Pablo Ibarra lets the movie run on a bit long, but at least he fills it with lovely, swoon-inducing music and scenery.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about A La Mala's attitude toward sex. Does it seem positive or negative? What lessons do the characters learn around sex? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
How does the movie deal with stereotypes? Does it question them or reinforce them?
Characters seem to drink a lot without very many consequences. Is that realistic?
For kids who love romance
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