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Alfonso Cuarón
Maribel Verdú, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna
Alfonso Cuarón, Carlos Cuarón

Box Office:
Budget $5 million.
Opening weekend $408,901 on 40 screens.
Domestic gross $13.622 million.
Rated R for strong sexual content involving teens, drug use and language.

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $26.98
Release Date: 10/22/2002

• Audio Commentary with Actors Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, and Andres Almeida
Me La Debas Short Film
• Deleted Scenes
• Making-of Featurette
• TV Spot
• Trailer


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Y Tu Mamá También (2001)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson

Here’s something you won’t find in a standard Hollywood film: from Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron, Y Tu Mama Tambien starts with a fairly graphic sex scene. I don’t present that as a positive or a negative fact, but it definitely sets the stage for the flick yet to come.

Tambien focuses on two Mexican teenage boys, Julio Zapata (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Tenoch Iturbide (Diego Luna). At the beginning of the flick, both boys’ girlfriends leave for the summer to tour Europe. In their absence, the guys meander. They smoke some pot and jerk off a lot but don’t do much else.

This starts to change when they meet Luisa Cortes (Maribel Verdu), the sexy 28-year-old wife of Tenoch’s cousin Jano (Juan Carlos Remolina). They hit on her with no success, and they try to get her to accompany them to a fictional beach called “Heaven’s Mouth”. However, after Jano admits infidelity to Luisa, she changes her mind and takes the boys up on their offer.

They scramble to find a substitute beach and then head out on their journey. Along the way, much sex talk occurs, and some action takes place when Luisa seduces Tenoch. Julio sees this and becomes jealous, which provokes him to admit to his friend that he banged Tenoch’s girlfriend. Unsurprisingly, this creates a rift between the pair, which Luisa blames on herself. As a result, she sleeps with Julio, and an angry Tenoch then tells him that he nailed Julio’s girlfriend. Eventually the boys get drunk and make up, and the whole group gets it on with some three-way action. They even make it to the beach at one point!

If you can’t tell from my synopsis, I’ll clarify this now: Tambien doesn’t offer a plot-heavy experience. But I don’t regard that as necessarily a bad thing, for character-driven pieces also provide many pleasures. In truth, I can’t say that any of the three leads seem terribly well drawn or articulated, but Tambien manages a lewd and easy-going charm that makes it a success nonetheless.

After I watched Tambien, I knew that I generally liked the film, but I couldn’t quite figure out why. Sure, the hot naked women helped, but the film didn’t provide scads of skin; we got some good flashes but no extended reveals ala the shower scene in Porky’s. (Note that Tambien offers equal opportunity nudity: actually, I think we see more of the boys than of the various female characters.)

The minimal story clearly offered nothing special. I wouldn’t call Tambien a real “coming of age” story, since it didn’t seem like the boys really learned any particular life lessons from it. In some ways, the movie felt like a raunchier take on Stand By Me. It offered a notable event in the characters’ lives, but not one that appeared definitive. Instead, it more heavily favored a snapshot of a certain important moment. In any case, the tale itself didn’t come across as especially noteworthy.

As I mentioned, I also didn’t think the characters themselves seemed particularly interesting. Julio and Tenoch differed in social standing, but otherwise they appeared very similar; I saw little to differentiate between the two. Luisa came across as little more than the experienced and seductive older woman, and her personality showed no sparks that made her stand out from the crowd.

Because of all this, Tambien probably should have been mediocre at best, but somehow, the whole added up to more than the sum of its parts. I hate to offer such a general discussion of why I liked the film, but honestly, I can’t pin down anything particular that endeared it to me. I enjoyed my time with the flick and thought it seemed amusing, charming, and appropriately dramatic at times, but I’ll be damned if I can pin down my feelings more clearly than that.

One specific element I liked came from the movie’s broad but subtle depiction of Mexican society. Throughout the film, we saw elements of social unrest as well as all strata of economic achievement. However, the filmmakers never beat us over the head with these moments, as they all slipped by naturally. They integrated into the piece cleanly gave it a more powerful impact.

That made a difference, for on the surface, Y Tu Mama Tambien could – and perhaps should – offer little more than a raunchy teen sex flick. While the movie clearly included many risqué moments, it managed to become something more substantial than that. I still can’t really explain what made Tambien memorable, but the film stayed with me after I watched it.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+ / Audio B- / Bonus B

Y Tu Mama Tambien appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While not a perfect presentation, I found the picture to provide a very solid piece of work.

Sharpness seemed positive most of the time. A few wider shots came across as slightly soft, but those occurred very infrequently. Instead, the movie usually appeared crisp and distinct. I saw no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and the image also seemed free of edge enhancement. Print flaws created only a few concerns. I saw some light grain at times, and occasional examples of grit and specks appeared. However, those didn’t intrude frequently, so the movie mostly remained clean and fresh.

Colors varied somewhat, but they usually came across as accurate and clear. I thought they seemed slightly desaturated at times, however. This may have been a stylistic choice, but the image was erratic in that regard, and the moderately pale hues really didn’t seem to make sense within the film’s context. In any case, the colors normally looked reasonably tight and rich. Black levels came across as deep and dense, but shadow detail appeared a little heavy at times. Low-light sequences seemed slightly murky, but not terribly so. Overall, I felt the picture of Y Tu Mama Tambien was very satisfying.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Y Tu Mama Tambien didn’t have much to it, but it worked fine for the subject matter. The soundfield usually remained fairly heavily oriented toward the front channels. Tambien included no proper score, but it presented a gentle and accurate sense of atmosphere. Elements showed up in their appropriate places and meshed together neatly. These remained quiet and unobtrusive for the most part, as the movie rarely kicked in anything other than general environmental tones. The surrounds responded similarly, though they added some decent material on a few occasions, such as when they boys swam; the film then presented a good underwater effect. Periodically, I heard mild split-surround material such as the passing of a vehicle, but few of those occurred.

Audio quality appeared solid if unspectacular. Since I speak no Spanish beyond “extreme cheese quesadilla”, I can’t judge the intelligibility of the dialogue, but it seemed natural and warm, and I detected no signs of edginess. As I noted, the movie provided no actual score; the sporadic examples of music came from sources on the set. Effects appeared accurate and distinct, and they showed no problems related to distortion. Bass response came across as reasonably rich, though the track often seemed somewhat thin. Some louder moments demonstrated positive low-end, but otherwise the mix showed fairly subdued material. Overall, the audio didn’t offer much ambition, but it seemed adequate for the movie.

The DVD of Y Tu Mama Tambien tosses in a few supplements. We start with an audio commentary from actors Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, and Andres Almeida, all of whom sat together for this running track. I’d love to provide details about it and my reaction to it, but since it’s in Spanish, that won’t happen. I’ve not learned to speak Spanish since that last paragraph, and no translations appear, so I’m out of luck! I can’t recall another US DVD that only includes a non-English commentary. Amelie provided a French track, but it also included a separate English piece. Well, if anyone out there speaks Spanish, enjoy the commentary!

Thankfully, all of the remaining extras provided English subtitles when necessary; otherwise this review of the extras would go by really quickly. First we get Me La Debes, a short film by Tambien co-writer Carlos Cuaron. The flick runs 12 minutes and 15 seconds and appears non-anamorphic 1.85:1 with Dolby Surround 2.0 audio. The film offers a moderately amusing sex farce.

Next we find three Deleted Scenes. These last between 56 seconds and 112 seconds for a total of three minutes, 46 seconds of material. Presented non-anamorphic 1.85:1 with Dolby Surround 2.0 sound, two of the three offer moderately interesting but generally inconsequential character moments. The other offers a whistling old man and nothing else. I’m glad they cut that one!

After this we move to the Making of Y Tu Mama Tambien, a 22-minute and 34-second glimpse at the production. Unlike most programs of this sort, it includes no interviews. Instead, it mixes shots from the movie with behind the scenes images from the set. Really, it offers more of a production diary than a true “making of” program, and it seems reasonably entertaining in that way. It includes way too many film clips, but it manages to integrate them smoothly. The piece also features wry commentary that resembles the narration heard during the flick itself. This documentary lacks depth, but it provides an enjoyable and irreverent snapshot of the production.

Finally, Tambien gives us a couple of ads. We get a 30-second TV Spot plus the film’s US theatrical trailer. The latter runs two minutes and 20 seconds.

Although I still don’t know why, I liked Y Tu Mama Tambien. On the surface, the film seemed like nothing special, but for some unknown reason, it actually offered a lively and memorable experience. The DVD provided generally very positive picture along with acceptable audio and a decent roster of extras; the latter components are better if you speak Spanish. I remain too confused about Tambien’s appeal to recommend it wholeheartedly, but I do recommend it nonetheless.

Note that this DVD presented an unrated version of Y Tu Mama Tambien. According to press materials that came with it, the theatrical “R”-rated edition runs 100 minutes, while this unrated cut lasts 105 minutes. Since I never saw the film before I got the unrated DVD, I can’t compare the two. Oddly, the “R”-rated DVD apparently includes none of this one’s supplements, but it does toss in a fullscreen rendition of the film that doesn’t show up on the unrated one. I can’t imagine any logical reason fans would buy the “R”-rated cut instead of this unrated one; it seems like the better release by far.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.4745 Stars Number of Votes: 59
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