Mi Amigo Alexis

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Mi Amigo Alexis Movie Poster Image
Sweet subtitled soccer tale has some mature themes.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 100 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

"The best thing about being a child is to dream and to be free."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tito loves his father so much that he can't bring himself to disappoint the man by telling him he doesn't want to be a soccer player.

Violence

A father constantly humiliates his son when the boy doesn't perform up to standards at soccer tryouts. One brave boy must go retrieve a lost soccer ball from a cemetery, dodging vultures. A famed soccer star grew up without enough money for shoes, food, or a soccer ball. A boy takes a soccer ball from his hero without asking and it leads to accusations of theft. Locals vandalize a fancy car parked in their bad neighborhood, then apologize and put the car back together when they realize it belongs to an admired soccer star. A father consistently ignores and downplays his daughter's talent and passion for soccer while forcing his younger son to play.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A man with a drinking problem has a past of driving under the influence. He's found passed out on a playing field.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mi Amigo Alexis is a family story set in a poor neighborhood in Chile (with English subtitles) where a soccer-loving 12-year-old boy named Tito befriends a famed soccer professional (played by soccer pro Alexis Sanchez). Tito suffers under a sour and domineering father and Alexis' joy in the game serves as a counterpoint.  A father, kicked out of home for behaving terribly, gets falling-down drunk and embarrasses the family. Extreme poverty, hunger, and deprivation are depicted.

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What's the story?

In MI AMIGO ALEXIS, Tito (Luciano Gonzalez) loves to play soccer with the neighborhood kids and, for age 12, he's pretty good.  MI AMIGO ALEXIS tells a story of impoverished Chilean families who see soccer talent in their young kids as a way out of poverty. Tito's dad Hector (Daniel Munoz) failed in his own professional career and is now an unemployed, bitter drunk. He pulls Tito out of school to train for tryouts that could track the boy toward a possible professional career. The trouble is that Tito is a great student who loves school and would rather design buildings than play pro ball, but he can't tell his dad for fear his father will withdraw his love. His older sister Gloria (Ignacia Uribe) is a true soccer talent with the drive to succeed, but their dad ignores and denigrates her dreams. Enter Alexis Sanchez, a real-life famed Chilean soccer player (playing himself). He befriends Tito by accident and is kind and helpful, in spite of his treatment by Hector, who barges into his home to bully Alexis into helping Tito get a major tryout. Alexis also gently helps the moody and obsessed Hector to see how he has been mistreating his children. Flashbacks to Alexis' own impoverished childhood demonstrate his love for the game, and when Alexis leads Tito's friends in a soccer match, he emphasizes a love of the game over its potential monetary value.

Is it any good?

This movie is a sweet and engaging story about how a loving young son copes with an insensitive and clueless father. Mi Amigo Alexis sets a jaunty tone with robust, fun music as it chronicles the complex emotional lives of poor kids who are more interested in enjoying themselves than in money. The gentle understanding that Sanchez brings to the story underscores how much farther passion and enjoyment can take you than the militant ravings of a desperate and unfulfilled parent. As Sanchez explains, his mother never forced him to play soccer when he was young, so his drive came from within. Equally moving is his assurance that he has never forgotten where he came from, or the hunger and deprivation of his youth.

The one misstep here is the jokey scene in which locals who vandalized Sanchez's fancy car are sorry for the "mistake" once they learn the car belonged to a major soccer star. This stereotyping implies that poor people steal as a matter of course, which feels belittling and condescending.   

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how terrible the dad in Mi Amigo Alexis makes his son feel when the boy doesn't measure up to his high standards on the soccer field. Do you think it's fair that the father puts the fortunes of the family on the boy's potential soccer career?

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  • Why do you think some parents concentrate on making themselves look good through the accomplishments of their kids? What does the father do to help his son achieve his own happiness and fulfillment?

  • What role does poverty play in the father's behavior? How much of his behavior reflects shame over his own failures in life?

  • Are there useful lessons for parents and kids to take from this tale? What are they?

Movie details

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