A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Characters show strong communication, especially with others who speak a different language. Empathy is strong within the movie and characters care for one another despite the problems of their surroundings.
Positive Role Models
Lucia is a single mother who takes her children to the U.S. from Mexico. She works multiple jobs and dedicates her life to her kids, encouraging them to learn English while she is out at work. At one point she loses her temper and slaps her son's face. Max and Leo are young brothers who, for the most part, obey their mother's orders to stay indoors. When things go wrong they feel bad. They fight but are kind to each other. Mrs. Chan is the family's landlady. She is kind to the kids when she becomes concerned about their welfare.
The movie is about a Mexican family made up of a single mother and two young brothers. In the U.S., they live in a culturally diverse neighborhood and are helped by a Chinese landlady. A character uses the term "Cholo" to describe young men involved in gangs. Multiple languages are spoken and characters communicate despite barriers.
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Violence & Scariness
Two young siblings fight with biting, slaps, and wrestling. A parents slaps their child's face. Kids vandalize property, break bottles, and throw eggs at windows. Kids hold their hands over lit flames as a test of endurance.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kids hear the sound of people having sex in the next apartment. Young teen puts underwear on their head and tells a kid they smelled their mom's "p---y." Stream shown when kids urinate into a sink.
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Kids swear, with language that includes "dumbass," "for Christ's sake," " f---ing," "sissy," "f----r," "p---y," "f--k," "s--thole," and "ass." A kid gives the middle finger gesture.
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Products & Purchases
Visible logos in a warehouse include Asahi beer and Smirnoff vodka. Kids want to visit "Disney," referring to Disney World Resort or Disneyland.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Kids watch a drug deal outside their window. Child finds a discarded syringe outside and nearly pricks their finger. Someone uses a light bulb to smoke meth. Characters smoke cigarettes. Beer and vodka are seen in a warehouse.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Wolves (aka Los Lobos) is an unflinching yet warmhearted Mexican family drama (with English subtitles) about a single mom and her two sons who immigrate to the U.S.. The mother, Lucia (Martha Reyes Arias), works multiple jobs to provide for her sons, Max (Maximiliano Nájar Márquez) and Leo (Leonardo Nájar Márquez), who she demands stays in the apartment the whole time. Despite their mother's instructions, the boys leave the apartment where they meet other young people many of whom vandalize property, fight, and steal. They also swear, including words such as "p---y" and variants of "f--k." The boys also fight amongst themselves and an adult slaps a child's face. The lower-income neighborhood is multicultural and there is a strong message of communication despite language barriers. The boys encounter a kind landlady who takes them under her wing. The movie features a drug deal and a man is shown using a light bulb to smoke meth. In one scene, a kid finds a discarded syringe and almost pricks themselves on the needle. Despite the harsh realities shown, the movie is warm, honest and will help foster empathy for people in similar situations. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Writer-director Samuel Kishi said this moving Mexican immigration drama is a love letter to his mother, who immigrated to the U.S. with him and his brother. This experience clearly helped let the warmth shine through The Wolves (aka Los Lobos) and saves it from potential pitfalls of exploitation or sensationalization. Yet despite its tenderness, the film readily shows the harsh realities that immigrants often face. People who have lived these experiences will recognize them. Those who have not will be enlightened to struggles they might never encounter. Upon arriving in Albuquerque, with no papers and no income, Lucia (a Reyes Arias) has to find a home for her and her two boys. We accompany them to unsuitable apartments before settling on the best of a bad bunch. The first thing Lucia does is scrub away the filth before leaving to look for work. Everything is done in service of her kids, from working multiple jobs to sleeping in the tub, for now she exists only for them.
Reyes Arias' performance is not the only one of note. Young real-life brothers Maximiliano and Leonardo Nájar Márquez, who expect Disneyland but get an impoverished, lawless district, are great company. While Cici Lau is excellent as the caring landlady who takes them under her wing. Occasional animated interludes remind us that although The Wolves is realistic, it's not reality. The viewer is protected from the true possibilities but sent away with an increased empathy for the plights of others.
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