My Family (Mi Familia)

Movie review by
Teresa Talerico, Common Sense Media
My Family (Mi Familia) Movie Poster Image
Epic, dramatic tale of a Mexican-American family.
  • R
  • 1997
  • 126 minutes

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Overall, a story of a hardworking, loving, and idealistic family. There are scenes of ethnic discrimination, as when authorities round up Mexicans (regardless of their citizenship), force them into trucks, and deport them as part of a Depression-era immigration sweep, or when a woman comments that Latina maids are "always getting pregnant."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mostly the characters try to improve their lives. Two members get involved in criminal activities, including one that serves time in prison for armed robbery. He redeems himself later in the film.

Violence

A character, on the run from police, is killed when officers shoot him in the head and the back. Two characters engage in a knife fight: one is fatally stabbed. Both of these scenes are fairly graphic and bloody. A woman threatens a man with a shotgun. Police strike a man with a nightstick. A few fights occur throughout the film. A graphic childbirth scene ends in a mother's death, her body shown briefly in the morgue. A mother makes a perilous journey across a river with her baby.

Sex

A husband and wife kiss passionately; they are then shown naked in bed; the wife's breast is briefly visible. A man and a woman make love in a field. They are clearly naked, although positioned strategically and shot from the waist up so that nothing is revealed.

Language

Characters curse frequently in both languages, with the worst being "f--k you" in English and "f--k your mother" in Spanish.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A character admits that he sells marijuana. A character drinks an alcoholic beverage. Cigarette smoking shown.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that My Family (Mi Familia) is about a hardworking and loving Mexican-American family has a lot of adult material. Characters are partially nude in passionate love scenes, and there are several violent moments including a bloody shooting, a knife fight that ends in a fatality, and a graphic childbirth scene that ends in a mother's death, her body shown briefly in the morgue. There's a lot of cursing in both English and Spanish; one character drinks and another sells marijuana.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byFlAkALoWkSz_15 July 8, 2010
hell yeahh gang related movie

What's the story?

The sweeping saga MY FAMILY follows a Mexican-American family through three generations, beginning in the 1930s. José Sanchez (Jacob Vargas) arrives in California from Mexico and lands a job as a gardener to wealthy families. He meets and marries Maria (Jennifer Lopez), and they have six children. They are separated early in the movie when a pregnant Maria is unjustly deported, and her perilous journey home with an infant son sets up a haunting, mystical thread that runs throughout the movie. Paco (Edward James Olmos), the eldest son (and the film's narrator), is an aspiring writer. Irene marries and opens a restaurant with her husband. Toni (Constance Marie) becomes a nun, but later shocks her parents when she finds her true calling in life. Guillermo, or "Memo," becomes a lawyer. Two sons emerge as more flagrant rebels. In the 1958 segment, Chucho (Esai Morales) sells drugs and periodically fights with a rival gang leader. Jimmy (Jimmy Smits) is the youngest of the family and the heart of the film. As an adult in 1978, he's an ex-con who follows in Chucho's footsteps and harbors a deep hurt over a tragedy he witnessed as a boy. His world changes when he marries Isabel, a maid in danger of being deported back to El Salvador.

Is it any good?

This excellent movie explores the dynamics of Mexican-American families and culture in a way that's not often presented in mainstream cinema. It welcomes viewers inside this tight-knit clan with a mixture of drama and humor, tragedy and romance, and also examines issues familiar to immigrants and their families. (One recurring theme explores how José and Maria's first-generation children respond to the traditions, cultural values, and ideals of their parents.) Ultimately, however, it transcends its ethnicity and is simply a story about family.

Occasionally weighed down with melodrama, My Family (Mi Familia) is nonetheless moving and well-executed, with an epic, almost Godfatheresque feel. (Francis Ford Coppola had a hand in its production, and that influence shows, particularly in a wedding scene.) The eclectic soundtrack, which includes Mexican folk music, Los Lobos, and Pedro Infante, captures the film's spirit, and two key scenes use dancing to great effect: Chucho teaches a group of kids to mambo in a lively moment, and Isabel shows Jimmy how to dance in a scene that's unforgettable for its chemistry, its sheer joy, and the way Smits' character thaws before our eyes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about where their own ancestors are from and how long the family has been here. 

  • How does the family in My Family (Mi Familia)  resemble your own?

  • Does the film devote too much time to the characters of Chucho and Jimmy, perhaps perpetuating certain stereotypes?

Movie details

For kids who love other cultures

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