Maribel Verdú, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna
Alfonso Cuarón, Carlos Cuarón
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.
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 106 min.
Release Date: 8/19/2014
• “On Y Tu Mama Tambien” Documentaries
• “The Making of the Film” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Interview with Philosopher Slavoj Zizek
• Trailer and TV Spot
• You Owe Me One Short Film
• DVD Version
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.
Y Tu Mamá También: Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray] (2001)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 12, 2014)
Here’s something you won’t find in a standard Hollywood film: from Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron – now best-known as an Oscar-winner for 2013’s Gravity - 2001’s 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 may even make it to the beach at some 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 despite its potential pitfalls.
After I watched Tambien, I knew that I 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 offers nothing special. I won’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 feels like a raunchier take on Stand By Me. It offers a notable event in the characters’ lives, but not one that appears definitive. Instead, it more heavily favors a snapshot of a certain important moment. In any case, the tale itself doesn’t come across as especially noteworthy.
As I mentioned, I also don’t think the characters themselves seem particularly interesting. Julio and Tenoch differ in social standing, but otherwise they appear very similar; I see little to differentiate between the two. Luisa comes across as little more than the experienced and seductive older woman, and her personality shows no sparks that made her stand out from the crowd.
Because of all this, Tambien probably should be mediocre at best, but somehow, the whole adds up to more than the sum of its parts. I hate to offer such a general discussion of why I like the film, but honestly, I can’t pin down anything particular that endears 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 like comes from the movie’s broad but subtle depiction of Mexican society. Throughout the film, we see 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 slip by naturally. They integrate into the piece cleanly and give it a more powerful impact.
That makes 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 includes many risqué moments, it manages to become something more substantial than that. I still can’t really explain what makes Tambien memorable, but the film stayed with me after I watched it.
Note that this Blu-ray presents an unrated version of Y Tu Mama Tambien. According to press materials that came with the original DVD, the theatrical “R”-rated edition runs 100 minutes, while this unrated cut lasts 106 minutes. Since I never saw the film before I got the unrated DVD, I can’t compare the two.
The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B
Y Tu Mama Tambien appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a consistently strong transfer.
Sharpness satisfied. The movie’s photographic style meant some slightly loose shots, but those fit the imagery and created no distractions. Instead, the movie presented elements that fit the cinematography. Neither jaggies nor moiré effects marred the image, and I saw no edge haloes or other artifacts. Print flaws remained absent.’
In terms of colors, the movie opted for a semi-desaturated palette that favored tans and browns, with some teal on occasion as well. These looked well-rendered within the film’s design choices. Blacks were dark and rich, while low-light shots offered smooth material. I felt completely satisfied with this presentation.
The DTS-HD MA 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 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. The track didn’t dazzle, but it added dimensionality to the experience.
Audio quality appeared solid. 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, with appropriate low-end response. Overall, the audio didn’t offer much ambition, but it seemed more than adequate for the movie.
How does this Blu-ray compare with the original DVD from 2002? Audio seemed broader and more dynamic, while visuals came across as tighter, fuller and better developed. The Blu-ray gave us a substantial improvement in quality.
The Criterion release mixes old and new extras. In the “new” category, On Y Tu Mama Tambien presents two documentaries. “Then” (10:51) provides interviews shot during the production and includes notes from director Alfonso Cuaron, screenwriter Carlos Cuaron, director of photography Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, and actors Maribel Verdu, Gael Garcia Bernal, and Diego Luna.
In addition, we get “Now” (40:53), a contemporary collection of interviews. It features Alfonso Cuaron, Carlos Cuaron, Bernal and Luna, Verdu. The programs look at story/character areas, influences and development, cast and performances, Alfonso Cuaron’s approach to the material, cinematography, shooting in Mexico and language issues, and other related topics.
While “Then” has some good observations, “Now” provides the vast majority of the useful material. We learn many interesting notes about the film and enjoy ourselves via a bunch of fun stories as well.
You Owe Me One delivers a short film by Tambien co-writer Carlos Cuaron. The flick runs 12 minutes, 16 seconds and offers a moderately amusing sex farce.
After this we find three Deleted Scenes. These last between 55 seconds and one minute, 51 seconds for a total of three minutes, 45 seconds of material. Two of the three offer moderately interesting but inconsequential character moments. The other offers a whistling old man and nothing else. I’m glad they cut that one!
One oddity: the deleted scenes all come in an aspect ratio of about 2.35:1. Since the feature film runs at 1.85:1, I don’t know why this alternate ratio occurs for the cut footage; I have to imagine it was a mistake in authoring.
After this we move to the Making of Y Tu Mama Tambien, a 22-minute and 35-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.
A new component, an Interview with Slavoj Zizek lasts nine minutes, one second. The philosopher discusses various themes of the film and gives us some interpretation. Zizek provides a mix of intriguing thoughts.
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.
Two extra platters offer a DVD copy of Tambien. This replicates all the bonus materials from the Blu-ray.
A 72-page booklet completes the package. In it, we find an essay from journalist Charles Taylor as well as character biographies written by Carlos and Alfonso Cuaron. I especially like the latter segments, as they offer useful insights.
Note that the Criterion release drops an audio commentary from the original DVD. Normally I’d whine about that but since the chat was in Spanish, I never heard it and couldn’t discuss its quality. It still would’ve been nice to have here, but as a non-Spanish speaker, I don’t miss it.
Although I still don’t know why, I like Y Tu Mama Tambien. On the surface, the film seems like nothing special, but for some unknown reason, it turns into a lively and memorable experience. The Blu-ray delivers excellent picture along with satisfying audio and a decent roster of supplements. Criterion brings us a terrific representation of an involving film.
To rate this film, visit the original review of Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN