Y Tu Mama Tambien

Y Tu Mama Tambien (translated to And Your Mother Too) is a raucous, sexually liberated road trip into the heart of Mexico. In the same vein as most road trip movies, fun and self-discovery await its participants. However, writer/director Alfonso Cuaron (Great Expectations, A Little Princess) and co-writer Carlos Cuaron (Love in the Time of Hysteria, Who the Hell is Juliette?) want more. On the surface, the road trip of Luisa, Julio, and Tenoch is about horny, lazy kids trying as hard as they can to get laid. The Cuarons use this superficial premise to shed light on what they believe is the changing culture of Mexico, politically and morally. It has enough crude humor, sex, and nudity to go toe-to-toe with the basest American teen movies, and this tends to overshadow some of the subtler themes of the film.

Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal, Amores Perros, Cerebro) and Tenoch (Diego Luna, Before Night Falls, Gimme the Power) are two bored friends looking for trouble. Their girlfriends went to Italy for the summer, and they do little except drink, get high, and mess around. They come from different socioeconomic classes; Julio from the lower end and Tenoch from the upper end. Tenoch's father is fairly high in the Mexican government. Their current object of lust is Luisa (Maribel Verdu, Goya in Bordeaux, The Goalkeeper), the wife of Tenoch's cousin. They convince her to accompany them on a road trip to Heaven's Mouth, a beach they made up. Luisa agrees to go only because she discovered her husband was cheating on her. Luisa is older, and more experienced sexually and in the ways of the world. Julio and Tenoch are merely disaffected youth, who soon realize they are out of their league.

Frequently, the sound mutes and an omniscient narrator provides some commentary or background on a situation, or highlights the history of some passing landmark. This is where Cuaron (veering wildly in tone from his prior two movies) wants to show how the road trip parallels the tumultuous recent history of Mexico. Corruption is rife, and the trio passes unimpeded through abject poverty and police checkpoints. This is completely different from the lives they live in Mexico City, especially for Tenoch and Luisa. Mexico is undergoing new experiences just as Julio and Tenoch are. Cuaron wants to say that not all of these experiences may be good, but overall, they are for the better. The fact that Cuaron is able to combine both the lewdness with the political overtones says something about his ability as a writer and director.

However, as mentioned previously, this narrator intones his points subtly, almost obliquely at times. They are easy to miss, especially in light of the fairly explicit sex, nudity, and adolescent humor. And unlike many of its American counterparts, Y Tu Mama Tambien is really funny. It is gleefully crude, and not ashamed of anything, and this feeling easily jumps off the screen and infects the audience. All three principals are relatively young and not called upon to do much more than goof off, so they all come across as fresh and eager. It seems that reaching the beach is not the ultimate goal, it is the trip there that is important.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 45 minutes, Spanish with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains sexuality, nudity, and language, an easy NC-17.

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