Tell Me When
Likeable Mexican dramatic comedy has language, drinking.
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Tell Me When
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tell Me When (Dime Cuándo Tú) is a Mexican romantic comedy with some drinking, smoking, and language. The film crosses borders and highlights aspects of the immigrant experience when its main character, Will, travels from his hometown of Los Angeles to explore his roots in his grandparents' hometown of Mexico City. In Mexico, he gets drunk repeatedly, suffering hangovers, taking poor care of himself, and making a fool himself more than once. He's a lonely but professionally successful young man who lost his parents in a car crash when he was a baby and whose beloved grandfather has just suffered a heart attack. He falls head over heels in love with Dani, looking for the kind of lasting romance his grandparents had. She flirts with him and they dance and share one kiss. Her friends help him with some good (and some not so good) romantic advice, including one who tells him to just "get laid." Adult characters smoke cigarettes and vape, and they drink alcohol regularly at parties, bars, and meals. Language includes "f--k" in various forms, "s--t," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "damn," "suck," "hell," "crap," "Jesus Christ," and "God." This film was reviewed in the original Spanish with English subtitles.
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What's the Story?
Will (Jesús Zavala) is a successful young professional living with his Mexican grandparents in Los Angeles in TELL ME WHEN. The grandparents (Verónica Castro and José Carlos Ruiz) worry about Will because he doesn't seem to have any friends his own age, never goes out, and always has his nose in his smart phone. Just before he dies of a heart attack, Grandpa gifts Will a journal with a list of places he should visit in Mexico City. The places form part of Will's heritage and roots but also recall the grandparents' young lives and early romance. Grandma puts Will in touch with her friend's granddaughter, Dani (Ximena Romo), hoping the two might hit it off. They do, and Will joins Dani's friend group and falls madly, and perhaps prematurely, in love.
Is It Any Good?
This Mexican comedy with some dramatic elements might not leave a lasting impression, but it's easy to digest, offers some laughs, and provides a lovely vision of Mexico City. Tell Me When also provides some insight into how immigrant families straddle two countries and cultures. The highlights of the film involve Mexican American Will exploring Mexico City. He's fulfilling his grandpa's bucket list for him, and the vision is one of a contemporary, trendy, and cultured metropolis. The film would have grown into something bigger had it offered more of these scenes, more description of the significance of the places on the list, and more exploration of what the city and his roots there meant for Will.
Local audiences will love the cameos and the insider humor. But despite some fun characters, especially meddling gay best friend Beto (played by Gabriel Nuncio) and Grandma's equally meddling friends, the love story between Will and Dani isn't developed enough to justify his disappointment or explain her attraction. Other ideas are also left half-baked, like a news report about Hispanic unemployment in the US or why Will is so socially awkward yet professionally successful. What is touching is his close-knit family, the love his grandparents show him by pointing out the hard reality of all that he's missing out on in life, and the open-ended finale that suggests positive friendships are as valuable as romance.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about being bilingual and bicultural, like Will's family in Tell Me When. What do people gain by living in and experiencing more than one country, culture, and language? What might they feel they lose?
What did you think of the use of special effects in the movie, like the rain cloud that follows Will around? Did this contribute significantly to the story and characters?
Will travels to Mexico City to explore his roots. What vision does the film give of this city? Where could you go for more information?
Why do you think Dani likes Will? What do you think their future will be?
- On DVD or streaming: April 23, 2021
- Cast: Jesus Zavala, Ximena Romo, Verónica Castro
- Director: Gerardo Gatica
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
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