Zurdo

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Zurdo Movie Poster Image
Excellent Mexican fantasy with some disturbing violence.
  • NR
  • 2003
  • 110 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Friendship, loyalty, community, being true to one's self. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Even with his extraordinary talents for winning at marbles, Zurdo also is a relatable tween boy learning the difference between right and wrong, developing his first crushes on girls, and doing his best to be a good son and community member.

Violence

A woman is nearly raped by a police officer who forces his way into her apartment. This same officer slaps Zurdo in the face and threatens to cut off his left hand. In shadows, a character is shown being stabbed to death by three gang members. These same gang members also are shown running around with chain saws. Some bullying: Tween boys get into a fistfight after a game of marbles. Some blood in the movie's climactic scene. A mother slaps her son hard and slaps Zurdo too. 

Sex

Sexual innuendo in scenes with the town prostitute. 

Language

"Ass." An overweight boy is nicknamed "Fatso" by his rivals in marbles. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Beer, wine, and shots in a bar. Drinking out of bottles covered in paper bags in an arena. Cigarette smoking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Zurdo is a subtitled 2003 Mexican film about a tween boy who has never lost a game of marbles who is thrust into a maelstrom of corruption and greed when the adults in his community bet their money that he can beat a marble champion in a rival city. Though this is a wonderful movie and a fine example of magical realism, there also are some violent moments, including a near-rape scene. Bad guys are shown wielding guns, chain saws, and knives. In shadows, a character is shown being stabbed to death by three gang members. Characters are slapped, and there's blood in the movie's climactic scene. There's sexual innuendo in scenes with the town prostitute. There's also some bullying -- an overweight boy is nicknamed "Fatso," and he and his friends get into a fistfight with Zurdo and his friend in the aftermath of a contentious marble game. However, for all its emphasis on folklore elements, Zurdo is mostly about a likable and relatable boy trying to do the right thing around so many who are doing the wrong thing. Overall, this is an unforgettable film for older kids and adults.

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What's the story?

Zurdo (Spanish for "Lefty") (Alex Perea) is a tween boy living in Buenaventura; he is the town's marbles champion and has never lost a match. When a mysterious stranger visits the local bar and tells of "the Wizard," the marbles champion in his hometown, the citizens of Buenaventura bet their money that Zurdo can defeat the Wizard. Zurdo is inadvertently thrust into a corrupt adult world of crooked cops, greedy townspeople, and vicious gang members, all of whom are trying to use Zurdo for their own wicked ends. The pressure placed on him is enormous, and Zurdo must find a way to win on his own terms -- not only in the planned epic marbles game but also in life. 

Is it any good?

ZURDO is a wonderful movie that skillfully evokes the best elements of Latin American folklore and literature. And yet, for all its stylized filmmaking and action sequences, Zurdo is about a tween boy trying to do the right thing in an adult world that doesn't always have the best intentions. Also, this movie manages to make marble-playing seem interesting -- no easy feat in an era of gaming culture, IMAX 3-D, and, well, digital everything. 

The violence, including a near-rape scene and some bloodshed in the movie's climactic scene, makes this film best for teens and older. This unforgettable movie also can inspire discussion about Latin American storytelling traditions and how they play into this story.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about magical realism. What is magical realism, and what elements of it do you see in this movie? 

  • How are elements of Mexican folklore applied in this movie? How would this movie be different if it was, say, an American movie about a suburban American tween boy who was the neighborhood marbles champion? 

  • What is the difference in the effect of violence that is shown and violence that is implied? How are the two types used in this movie? 

Movie details

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