How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer Movie Poster Image
Tedious drama wastes its promise despite strong acting.
  • R
  • 2008
  • 128 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Plenty of misunderstandings between the women in this Mexican-American family, and some disrespect. But clearly they love each other, and want nothing more than for each of them to find happiness and peace. Some men are boorish when it comes to their attitude toward women; one character is downright lecherous.

Violence

Characters argue, sometimes loudly.

Sex

A teenager grabs a boy's hand and places it on her breasts; later, she's shown having sex for the first time (no nudity; girl is in a bra, boy has no shirt, they're under the covers, but there's movement). A woman is shown pleasuring herself -- we only see her face -- with a vibrator. A couple is caught in bed, and one has to get dressed quickly.

Language

Fair amount from "damn" to "s--t."

Consumerism

Store signage, mention of products at a butcher shop.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some social smoking and imbibing.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film examines how three women in one family but of different generations explore their sexuality and, in doing so, learn more about themselves. There's swearing, sexual innuendoes, and allusions to sex toys.

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What's the story?

How did the Garcia girls -- 17-year-old Blanca (America Ferrera); her mother, Lolita (Elizabeth Peea); and her grandmother, Dooa Genoveva (Lucy Gallardo) -- spend their summer? By expanding their sexual and emotional horizons, that's how. Blanca's attracted to a newcomer to her Arizona town who's said to have a sketchy past; the husband of one of Lolita's customers at the meat shop is hitting on her, and she's tempted, even as she fends off the advances of the butcher; and Dooa Genoveva finds her yearnings rekindled when she buys a car she can't drive and enlists her gardener (Jorge Cervera Jr.) to teach her how. But that's not all she learns from him.

Is it any good?

You'd think the film's subject matter would make for an engrossing movie, but not so. Though the acting's fantastic, particularly the film's three leads, HOW THE GARCIA GIRLS SPENT THEIR SUMMER is tedious. It has so much potential -- it covers new ground by looking at intergenerational ennui, one of the reasons it may have won a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival -- but turns out unoriginal.

Some scenes dawdle for far too long, gumming up the works. Moments that ought to have been dramatic seem forced, and long before the film is over we sadly stop caring. Except perhaps for the gaggle of male retirees whose observations, spliced into the main story, elicit much-needed interest.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the women: How are they similar and different? What are each of them seeking? How do they handle their dissatisfaction? Is Blanca simply rebelling, or truly interested in exploring her sexuality? Why is Lolita tempted by her customer's husband? And why is Dooa Genoveva so mad at her daughter when she herself seems to need companionship?

Movie details

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