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El Potro: Unstoppable

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
El Potro: Unstoppable Movie Poster Image
Biopic about Argentinian music icon has sex, drugs, cursing.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 122 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Excessive misbehavior, including drugs, infidelity, irresponsibility, may have profound consequences. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Supporting players work hard to help singer on a downward spiral; their efforts are ultimately useless. They exhibit loyalty and compassion.

Violence

Hero has problem with anger: fights, punches glass and bloodies hand, road rage. A fatal accident is seen from inside the car as it happens.

Sex

On-camera sexual intercourse in multiple scenes with nudity (including bare breasts and frontal nudity), oral sex. Infidelity.

Language

Frequent profanity includes: "f--k," "bitch," "c--t," "s--t," "pr--k," "asshole," "d--khead," "t-ts."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink heavily, get drunk. While not ingested on camera, drugs play a significant part in the story. Lead character gets stoned, becomes addicted to hard drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that El Potro: Unstoppable is an Argentinian film (with English subtitles) about Rodrigo Bueno, a renowned singer from Cordoba in the 1990s. Young, ambitious, good-looking, and talented, "El Potro," as he was known, popularized Cordoban "cuarteto" (an upbeat combination of Italian and Spanish dance music). The film follows El Potro from his early efforts as a wannabe singer in his teens to the height of his stardom and early tragic death. The movie's sexual scenes are frequent and explicit with on-camera sexual intercourse, nudity (including frontal), oral sex, and flagrant infidelity. Characters drink, often to excess, and drugs are an important element in the lead character's arc. While he doesn't ingest drugs on camera, he's often at their effect. Profanity and slurs are extensive, including "f--k," "s--t," "c--t," "fags," "pr--k." Not for kids.

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What's the story?

From Cordoba, Argentina, teen Rodrigo Bueno (Rodrigo Romero) is passionate about music in EL POTRO: UNSTOPPABLE. Begging his reluctant music producer father to take him to Buenos Aires for a chance to sing and entertain, Rodrigo enlists his doting mother's support and is on his way. His dad puts his son in the hands of his friend and colleague, Oso "Bear" (Fernan Merais), who is steady, caring, and accountable. Rodrigo's talent is unmistakable, plus he's charismatic and a perennial risk-taker. Best of all, Rodrigo -- soon to be "El Potro" -- brings a special kind of music to the country's capitol -- Cordoban "cuarteto" -- an upbeat, danceable music, and he shares it with abandon. It all works. Rodrigo is a star. Fame, however, brings undeniable excesses Rodrigo's way. In spite of having a baby with a young woman he loves, he doesn't escape the allure of other women, alcohol, and drugs. El Potro rises; he falls. (Spoiler alert) Ultimately, foregoing multiple opportunities to save himself, like so many others he dies young, at 27, in a tragic accident that he caused himself.

Is it any good?

A dynamic performance and skillful direction aren't enough to rescue this familiar story from an often-incoherent structure and an inability to even suggest what drove the hero to such a tragic end. The music in El Potro: Unstoppable, with its compelling beat and Romero's all-out performance, is an anomaly, too. Bright, sunshiny rhythms have downbeat, often even depressing lyrics. And those lyrics appear to lose a substantial amount in the translation from the performances in Spanish to the English subtitles.

Sadly, there seems to be an almost limitless archive of entertainers who died tragically too young -- Moreno joins a long list of those who passed at age 27. This film doesn't meet the standard of many of the others. Note: Rodrigo Bueno's family has criticized the accuracy of the film, particularly its emphasis on drug use. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how El Potro: Unstoppable depicts alcohol and drug abuse. Is it romanticized? What consequences are there for the characters? Why is that important?

  • What is a “cautionary tale?” In what ways is El Potro: Unstoppable a cautionary tale?

  • What, if anything, did the filmmakers reveal about what motivated Rodrigo's negative behavior? Do you prefer some hints about what drove him to such excesses? Is a movie more substantial and/or memorable if you understand the character's reasons? Why or why not?

  • Is El Potro a role model in any way? What are his achievements? What are his flaws? Do the former outweigh the latter?

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