Parents' Guide to

La Boda de Valentina

By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Spanish-language romcom has mild swearing, comic violence.

Movie R 2018 108 minutes
La Boda de Valentina Poster Image

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This is a standard, Hollywood-style romcom that will likely be funnier to viewers who are more immersed in Mexican culture. There are plenty of references to current Mexican songs, celebrities, politicians, and political parties which, if intended as jokes, fall flat if you don't know what or who they are. La Boda de Valentina ("Valentina's Wedding") is barely about the wedding, so don't expect Bridesmaids-style hi-jinks here. The movie does rely on the romcom cliché of inexplicable dishonesty to create an uncomfortable situation, but otherwise it divides its focus among the ridiculous male bonding between Jason and Angel, the manipulations of political enemies, and some fish-out-of-water comedy involving Jason as a bumbling gringo. Which is a shame, because Vega's performance as Valentina is skillful. She's funny, gifted with expressive eyes, and appears sharp. She even handles the dramatic moments well. But there's so much going on, with so little context (for whom are we supposed to root, Angel or Jason? and who is Valentina, exactly?), that the story seems to move on from her about halfway through, leaving her ultimate decision between suitors to come from nowhere. Worst, her lies to her fiancé aren't only reprehensible; they're totally unnecessary. And that's just some of her character's thoughtless behavior.

To a non-Mexican audience, the lack of context for the political squabbling will likely make the conflicts seem unmoored. There seems to be some Trump-era jab -- especially the central controversy over the candidate's "assets statement" and a crack that "Africa, Haiti -- it's all the same" -- but nothing is solid. Valentina's family is rich, corrupt, and bungling; their opposition is hateful and all similar-looking, but what are the true differences between the two factions? Valentina's family members are unquestionably dishonest opportunists, but in one scene, her father turns out to be concerned with people's welfare, as well as a competent problem solver. Yet his family lives in engorged excess, and his candidacy is based on one lie after another. Despite Vega's absence, the film is actually at its best in the Jason-Angel scenes. Their foolish machismo is good for some laughs, especially during a night of drunken escapades. Carnes' Jason comes across as a romantic, but little else. Chaparro's Angel is given more to work with -- he's an old family friend who has a romantic history with Valentina and is a community-organizing activist who's Mr. Cool around the ladies. Unfortunately, the film fails to engage because of its scattershot focus and lack of romantic context. It's hard to care who's going to score that movie-closing dance at La Boda de Valentina.

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