A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this drama has some mature and emotionally difficult themes. It revolves around a young boy who must deal with his grandmother's (peaceful) death and an illegal border crossing between Mexico and the United States. There are some brief images of obvious prostitutes, an abusive pimp, and a twitchy junkie. Expect some mild (though potentially upsetting) violence in the form of chases and rough takedowns by INS agents and local L.A. police. The central boy is also threatened by bullies, thieves, and a child trafficker. Mostly mild language, though "s--t" is used.
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What's the story?
Rosario (Kate del Castillo) is hardworking and conscientious, but she's also an illegal immigrant, which means she has no recourse when her employer (Jacqueline Voltaire) decides to let her go. It's just one more roadblock for Rosario, who's been in Los Angeles for four years, hoping to bring over her 9-year-old son Carlitos (Adrian Alonso). UNDER THE SAME MOON follows both her efforts to gain legal status (she's tempted by the marriage offer of a very nice green-card holder) and Carlitos' attempts to reach her. After his grandmother's unexpected death leaves him alone in his small Mexican town, he undertakes a border crossing, hiding in the car of a couple of American students, including Marta (America Ferrera). He then finds himself alone and on the road, bothered by a junkie, a child-sex trafficker, border patrolmen, INS agents, and assorted other adults. At last he falls in with a hitchhiker, Enrique (Eugenio Derbez), who helps him find his long-lost father in Tucson, and afterward, get to L.A., where there are still more challenges to overcome.
Is it any good?
Despite the fact that it's directed with sincerity and compassion by Guadalajara-born Patricia Riggen, Under the Same Moon is weighed down by plot contrivances and simplistic life lessons. When Carlitos and Enrique take on a day-labor stint that ends with an INS raid, independent-minded Enrique tries to abandon his new buddy -- but finds himself drawn to the boy's helplessness, not to mention his big-eyed cuteness. They share rides, motel rooms, and work at a restaurant (where their antic back-and-forths reach a truly annoying pitch).
While Carlitos makes his way steadily mom-ward, Rosario grapples with her own set of daunting cliches. Rosario and best friend Alicia (Maya Zapata) worry daily about how to stay in the States. But even as they joke about their lack of options ("We should get a couple of gringos to marry us"), Rosario begins to think seriously about marrying for citizenship. Pursued by a very nice, very handsome security guard/green-card owner named Paco (Gabriel Porras), she resists because he's not "the one." For all her practical-minded focus on day-to-day living, Rosario remains a romantic, believing that true love will eventually save her. In another movie, such faith might seem a sustaining fiction or damaging delusion. But in Under the Same Moon, it's just the way the world works.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the movie portrays the plight of illegal immigrants in the United States. Do you think the movie is trying to make a specific point about the issue? If so, what is it? Is it OK that Carlitos and his mother are both breaking American laws? Why or why not?
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