Lowriders

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Lowriders Movie Poster Image
Admirable but overwritten drama has violence, drinking.
  • PG-13
  • 2017
  • 99 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Celebrates several positive attributes in a family: honesty and communication, not drinking, staying true to your own artistic vision, and not resorting to violence. But there's also a cruel joke about an overweight girl, and minor female characters are objectified.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character commits crimes (graffiti) but is punished for them. He's tempted off the straight and narrow by his brother, but he eventually figures out the correct and healthiest path for himself. Almost all the characters are Latino. Some objectification of women.

Violence

Character shot in the chest. Blood shown on his hands and pooling on floor. Brief fighting, some arguing. Smashing/destroying car with baseball bats and acid.

Sex

Main couple kisses and lies in bed together, possibly naked, under the covers (No nudity or sex shown.)

Language

One use of "f--k" and many uses of "s--t," plus "bitch," "p---y," "ho's," "hell," "piss," and "oh my God" (as an exclamation).

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A major character is recovering from a drinking problem; he gets drunk in one scene. Main characters briefly smoke pot. Social drinking. Spoken references to being drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Lowriders is a drama about a Latino family living in East L.A. There's a scene with guns and shooting that leads to a flesh wound and some blood. Characters fight and argue, and a car is destroyed by baseball bats and acid. Expect frequent strong language, including a use of "f--k," plus "s--t," "p---y," and "bitch." Two main characters kiss and lie in bed together under the covers; they're presumably naked, but nothing sensitive is shown. Another major character is recovering from a drinking problem and is shown drunk in one scene. Characters are also briefly shown smoking pot, and there are references to drunkenness, as well as some objectification of women. Although the movie centers on a culture that's tragically underrepresented in film, it's ultimately too overwritten and simplistic to succeed.

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What's the story?

In LOWRIDERS, Danny (Gabriel Chavarria) is a talented but troubled graffiti artist. His mother is dead, and his father, Miguel (Demian Bichir), would rather have Danny working in the family auto shop, helping to make the coveted lowriders that are so important in their East L.A. Latino culture. Their relationship is further strained when Danny is arrested for tagging a bridge and must be bailed out. At the same time, Danny's older brother, nicknamed "Ghost" (Theo Rossi), is released from a long prison stint; his relationship with his father is also strained, due to Miguel's past drinking problem. Ghost and Danny decide to enter their own car in the big Elysian Park lowrider competition, against their father's legendary "Green Poison." When Miguel's car wins, it kicks off a chain of events that forces Danny to decide his life's true direction.

Is it any good?

It's admirable that this film depicts a culture that's tragically under-represented on the big screen, but the movie is so overwritten and simplistic that it almost comes across as condescending. Rather than positioning itself as a tough, adult drama, Lowriders undercuts its viewers' intelligence and is pitched as if the audience needs absolutely everything explained and spelled out. Not only does Danny narrate the proceedings, but the characters speak to each other as if they were all newcomers to this world; nothing feels quite real.

Director Ricardo de Montreuil attempts to add some authenticity with his wobbly, documentary-like camerawork, but that can't cut through the ultimately soap opera-like structure of the writing. That said, the performances are squite strong, especially the one by Rossi (of Luke Cage); he gives Ghost a scary, seductive, streetwise swagger, as well as an appealing vulnerability. Oscar nominee Bichir (A Better Life, The Hateful Eight) is fine as well, as is Supergirl's Melissa Benoist and a nearly unrecognizable Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives).

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Lowriders' violence. How realistic is it? How does it compare to what you might see in an action movie? Do different kinds of violence have different impact?

  • How is the father's drinking problem depicted? How is it discussed? How were others affected? What has he learned? What message does that send?

  • How does this movie compare to others about Latino culture? Is it a positive depiction? Does it have an outsider or insider perspective?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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