Half Brothers

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Half Brothers Movie Poster Image
Uneven buddy comedy has sentimental, jarringly sad moments.
  • PG-13
  • 2020
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Encourages empathy, compassion, and teamwork, particularly between family members. Also messages about the importance of close relationships between parents and children, as well as accepting those who are different than you.

Positive Role Models

Renato is uptight and stuck in his ways but also incredibly smart, problem-solving, and willing to change for those he loves. Asher can be unfocused and impetuous, but he's remarkably kind and empathetic. Pia is an encouraging, supportive, and loving fiancee and mother. Flavio, despite his flaws as a father, overcame remarkable odds. Although the main cast includes several Mexican and Latinx actors, the screenplay also incorporates several stereotypes about both Mexico and the United States that are played for laughs (the former being violent or only filled with tourists, beaches, and ziplining; the latter being full of fat people who are loud, lazy, and entitled).

Violence

Bar brawl scene; a group of men threatens the brothers and beats up Asher. The brothers have to hit violent men with poisonous gas in order to rescue their pet goat. Flashbacks show upsetting scenes of undocumented immigrants' trials as they try to enter and stay in the United States, as well as the dangers they face in being detained. Border patrol officers grab the dad; he's left for dead after being very sick for a while. A couple of chase scenes between angry men and the brothers.

Sex

Married and engaged couples kiss, embrace, dance. Implied love scene (adulterous) and extramarital pregnancy. 

Language

Cursing in both English and Spanish: "shut up," "holy s--t," "freakin'," "ass," "s--t," "stupid," "d--k," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "goddamn," "son of a bitch," "Jesus Christ," "screw him," "weirdo," "freak," and one "f---ing," and "f--k." Spanish curses include "carajo," "mierda," etc.

Consumerism

A few brands: Mercedes, Ford, Converse.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink in bars; in one scene, a father and son switch drinks, and it seems like the son sips beer. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Half Brothers is an uneven bilingual dramedy about a Mexican man who discovers that he has a younger half brother when his estranged father dies in the United States and leaves his sons with a final wish: to go on a cross-country scavenger hunt together. Starring Mexican actor Luis Gerardo Méndez (in his first English-language leading role) and Connor Del Rio as the brothers, the movie switches from being a wacky road trip comedy to showing dramatic flashbacks about the father's immense challenges as an undocumented immigrant attempting to return to Mexico. There's violence and peril in those scenes, as well as some more comical brawls and chases in the contemporary timeline. Language is occasionally salty in both English and Spanish (expect a couple of uses of "f--k" and more of "s--t," "bitch," ass," etc.), and there are some heartbreaking moments in the flashbacks. Couples kiss, there's a bit of drinking, and the script includes stereotypes about both Mexico and the United States, but the film also encourages empathy, compassion, and teamwork between family members.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bydewilson January 15, 2021

Worth Watching

My family and I enjoyed this movie. The stereotypes were flagrant but funny for Americans. The Mexican characters often defied stereotypes. The story is ligh... Continue reading
Adult Written byKnano7 December 31, 2020

Could have been such a great movie

This movie was very heartfelt and funny at the same time. My problem was how they use manipulation to play on people's emotions. It made every white person... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

HALF BROTHERS begins with a loving Mexican father and son bonding over their love of puzzles and aviation. But it soon takes a turn as the country's economy collapses and the father, Flavio (Juan Pablo Espinosa), is forced to try his luck in America. Flavio never returns from north of the border, and his son, Renato (Luis Gerardo Méndez), grows up without a father. He becomes a prominent, if aloof, aviation entrepreneur who holds America responsible for his father's abandonment. A few days before his wedding, Renato receives a call from his estranged dad's second wife, who informs him that Flavio only has days to live. Renato's fianceé, Pamela (Pia Watson), who has a son from a previous relationship, encourages Renato to bid his father farewell. But once he'sin America, Renato realizes that his father not only had a second wife but also a second son, Asher (Connor Del Rio), a quirky and unemployed Millennial. Flavio's dying wish is for the two "brothers" to undergo a cross-country scavenger hunt that will explain why he had to leave Mexico, and his family, behind for good. 

Is it any good?

At first, this movie feels like a familiar wacky buddy comedy/road trip adventure, but it switches gear into a heartrending immigrant's tale in a way that doesn't work tonally or resolve plot issues. It's like two movies rolled into one, and neither is well served by the existence of the other, even if the performances are notable. It's nearly impossible not to see Del Rio as channeling a younger (if even more earnest) Zach Galifianakis in his role as Asher. And Méndez is fine as the uptight Renato, who's unwilling to give Asher the benefit of the doubt. But their zany adventures just aren't quite original or funny enough to be memorable.

Meanwhile, Half Brothers' flashback drama is compelling, humanizing an otherwise unlikable character (it's initially difficult to redeem a man who starts a new family and abandons his old one). But even as the revelations ramp up in intensity and sentimentality, the truth is that Flavio remains somewhat unforgivable, with the exception of introducing his sons. Director Luke Greenfield knows how to pull heartstrings, however, and audiences will find themselves feeling emotional in parts. It's almost as if Greenfield was inspired by Slumdog Millionaire, but the result isn't nearly as effective. There's a bit of whiplash in the transitions from the physical comedy and the brothers' verbal sparring to the turmoil and tribulations of Flavio's journey in America (even if he does eventually end up financially stable, with a beautiful wife and funny younger son). It's a shame that the movie's two halves don't come together more smoothly, because there are moments in each storyline that are worth watching.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence and depravation that Half Brothers depicts as part of the immigrant experience. Who shows Flavio compassion and kindness? What impact does that have?

  • What is the movie's message about stereotypes and generalizations? What stereotypical comments does Renato hear about Mexico, and what stereotypes does he believe about the United States? How can we combat stereotyping?

  • Discuss the genre of buddy comedies and buddy road trips. How does this one live up to the "rules" of the genre? Which ones are your favorites?

  • How does the film demonstrate -- and promote -- empathy, compassion, and teamwork?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas and comedies

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate