A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that No Manches Frida is a Spanish-language comedy from Mexico (with English subtitles) about an ex-con who must take a job as a substitute teacher at a struggling high school in order to find a bag of stolen cash. There's fighting, guns, and rough treatment (including a teacher holding a student's head under water). And, disturbingly, two instances in which a man drugs the drinks of unsuspecting women are played for laughs. Expect plenty of strong language, although not all of it is translated (the words that are include "s--t," "a--holes," "s--head," and more). Although there aren't any sex scenes in the movie, there are several suggestive jokes and comments about virginity, being aroused, and hooking up. One supporting character is a stripper, and several scenes take place in the strip club (although there's no official nudity). Both adults and teens drink and smoke cigarettes, and in one serious scene, troubled teens are taken on a "scared straight" field trip to see a drug dealer, a drug addict, and other ways their lives could end up if they don't pay attention in school.
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What's the story?
NO MANCHES FRIDA is the story of Zequi Alcantara (Omar Chaparro), a Mexican bank robber. After being released from prison, Zequi goes to retrieve his stash of cash, only to discover that the spot where his accomplice buried it -- in the courtyard of Frida Kahlo High School -- is now underneath a brand-new gym. Zequi decides to apply for a school custodian job in order to start digging for his loot, but the principal is so desperate for faculty that she offers him a substitute teacher position instead. So Zequi copies straight-laced teacher Miss Lucy's (Martha Higareda) degree and ends up assigned to the one group of troubled, rebellious kids no one else wants to teach. As Zequi's mission to unearth his money continues, he finds himself slowly attracted to Lucy and genuinely interested in encouraging his students.
Is it any good?
Despite being predictable and moderately raunchy, this Spanish-language comedy is entertaining enough, thanks to its performances. Mexican comedy actor Chaparro is known for his expressive face and imitations, and they work well for him in the role of Zequi, who at first couldn't care less about Frida High's students or faculty; he just wants to get his money and scram. But, soon enough, Lucy's earnest kindness and selflessness (she's not only her orphaned sister's guardian, but she also never stops thinking about how to better reach her students) start making an impact on the hardened bank robber.
Most of the jokes in No Manches Frida are obvious, and some fall flat -- especially the two gags involving spiked drinks, which in this day and age connote sexual assault, not harmless pranks. But there are some legitimate laughs, and the opposites-attract chemistry between Chaparro and Higareda is charming, even though the "good girl and reformed bad boy" relationship is such a cliche. Audiences won't get a full picture of any of the students' back stories, but they'll still root for the kids to pass their exam and for Zequi to redeem himself enough to be worthy of Lucy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the various forms of violence in No Manches Frida. How does a movie's tone affect the impact of violent content?
Why do you think movies about underperforming school/students are so popular and compelling? How does this one compare to others?
Did you notice any positive role models in the movie? If so, who are they, and what character strengths do they exhibit?
What do you think about the message that girls should get "made over" to look beautiful and be perceived as desirable?
What message does it send audiences when scenes like those of a man drugging women's drinks are played for laughs?
- In theaters: September 2, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: December 27, 2016
- Cast: Omar Chaparro, Martha Higareda, Mónica Dionne
- Director: Nacho Garcia Velilla
- Studio: Pantelion
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: crude sexual content, drug material, teen smoking and drinking, brief strong language and gestures, and thematic elements
For kids who love comedy
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