Fugly!

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Fugly! Movie Poster Image
Uneven dark comedy follows a stand-up comedian's failures.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 94 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

No matter how hard life gets, it's still worth living. Jesse encourages people to hold on to the people they love instead of being afraid of commitment. The story stresses the importance of close family ties and sheds light on the problem of ethnic stereotypes in television and film. But darker themes include suicide and adultery.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jesse isn't always a great role model, but in the end you see how much he wants to live and be a better partner to Lara. Jesse's grandfather is his best friend, always guiding him about what's really important in life.

Violence

An older character dies, and suicide is a running theme/plot point -- Jesse nearly kills himself by strangling and drowning.

Sex

Many scenes of Jesse having or discussing sex, starting with him masturbating and walking in on his father having sex with a woman who's not Jesse's mother and continuing on to his own various sexual experiences and walking in on his wife having an affair, etc. Some scenes are more explicit (moaning, bare backs, bras, underwear pushed down, etc.) than others (him and his girlfriend in bed under a sheet). Frank conversations about sex, positions, practices, and proclivities.

Language

Strong language in virtually every scene of the movie, including "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "d--k," "bitch," "whore," "p---y," and more.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink socially, smoke cigarettes, pop prescription pills, smoke marijuana, and more.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fugly! is an edgy dark comedy starring John Leguizamo as a character a bit like him -- a Latino stand-up comedian-turned-character actor. Scenes of the main character's "blue" stand-up routines explicitly reference his sex life, his lower-income upbringing, and showbiz, as well as an overriding plot point about his desire to kill himself. Strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," etc.) dominates the dialogue, and sex scenes are frequent, although they show more thrusting and moaning than actual nudity. The humor is rather adult, so the movie is best for older viewers who are already fans of Leguizamo.

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What's the story?

Jesse Sanchez (John Leguizamo) grew up funny but FUGLY! in the Bronx, with his sense of humor leading to a steady career as a D-list Latino actor playing drug dealers, thieves, and gangsters. Despite his nominal success, Jesse tells his Internet followers that he's going to kill himself because of a series of failures that includes everything from an adulterous wife (Rosie Perez) to a cliched career playing ugly stereotypes. The only thing that might make his life worth living is the unconditional love of a good woman -- namely, his old college sweetheart, Lara (Radha Mitchell). Will she return his affections before it's too late?

Is it any good?

Leguizamo is a talented comedic actor, and while he's admirably trying to explore how difficult it is to be a minority in Hollywood, this painfully uneven comedy isn't going to help the cause. It's true that Hispanic actors are underrepresented on screen, but the lack of big laughs in this tale of personal and professional foibles makes the film difficult to recommend to anyone who isn't already a die-hard fan of Leguizamo, who's best known for his supporting roles in movies like Chef, Romeo + Juliet, Carlito's Way, and the voice cast of the Ice Age franchise.

Parts of Fugly! seem to mimic Annie Hall -- a neurotic New York comedian falls for a quirky, WASPy woman while navigating a showbiz career -- but the movie relies so heavily on sex (in an early scene, young Jesse walks in on his father having sex with a mistress, and the dad equates a woman's orgasm with a powerful sneeze, causing the boy to fetishize women's sneezes) and Latino cliches that it's more a collection of raunchy references than a brilliant Manhattan romantic comedy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Fugly!'s argument that Latino actors are pigeonholed as criminals like drug dealers and gangsters. Do you think this is true? How are stereotypes perpetrated in the media?

  • Does the movie make you wonder how much of it is autobiographical?

  • What do you think of the movie's treatment of suicide?

Movie details

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