A scene from 'Y Tu Mama Tambien'
Courtesy Photo
3 stars (In Spanish with English subtitles)
105 minutes | Unrated
Opened: Friday, April 5, 2002
Written & directed by Alfonso Cuarón

Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Maribel Verdu


There's a certain encompassing effect this film had in theaters that might not be as strong on television. But if you watch with the lights out, it should still suck you in.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 10.22.2002

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Teenage buddies head for the beach with a sexy older woman in frank, fun, refreshing 'Y Tu Mamá También'

By Rob Blackwelder

A teenage road trip flick like Mexico's "Y Tu Mamá También" (translation: "And Your Mother, Too!") could never get made in Hollywood.

Sure, it has its fart jokes. Sure, the two best-buddy teenagers the plot revolves around are carefree stoners with sex on the brain 24/7. Can you blame them? They've dumb-lucked into escorting a gorgeous Spanish woman 10 years their senior on a pilgrimage to the beach during their summer vacation.

But this movie isn't Spring Break on MTV put to celluloid. It isn't aiming for the lowest common denominator and the lowest IQ. It has something insightful to say about sexuality and coming of age. It's a road trip movie with a soul.

Gael Garcia Bernal (from "Amores Perros") and Diego Luna (who appeared in "Before Night Falls") star as lower-caste Julio and rich politician's son Tenoch, who get bored at the wildly extravagant wedding of Tenoch's cousin, and for a laugh come on to a sad-looking beauty in a sexy, wisp-thin silk dress.

Little do they know as they make a suggestive offer to take her to a private beach (which is just a figment of their imagination made up on the spot) that Luisa (Maribel Verdu, "Belle Epoque") is married to another cousin -- a dreary writer who is a little full of himself and more than a little unfaithful.

Ready to seize the day for the first time in her life, disconcerted Luisa leaves her husband the next day and contacts the boys against her better judgment. Not about to pass up an opportunity like this, Julio visits his political-activist sister in the middle of an anti-government rally ("Left wing chicks are hot, dude!" observes horny Tenoch) to ask to borrow her car -- a beater of a 1970s station wagon. Then the guys hit the road with their unexpected Venus in tow and with no idea where they're going.

Just like his characters, writer-director Alfonso Cuarón -- who has played the Hollywood game in the past, helming remakes of "A Little Princess" and "Great Expectations" -- takes the road less traveled. Serious overtones of faith, fidelity, free expression and self-discovery mingle with the movie's sly sense of humor as our wayfaring trio explores the handsomely rough, parched countryside and tests their evolving states of friendship and sexuality.

Luisa seduces the boys one at a time, hoping to force herself toward closure in her marriage while nursing other ailments as well. For the guys, all this starts out seeming pretty damn cool. But when they go to sneak a peek at their passenger undressing through a hotel room window on their first night out, they catch her crying uncontrollably instead. There's clearly more to Luisa than the flirtatious facade she puts on in the car, and now they're not so sure what they've gotten themselves into.

Tensions and jealousies soon arise, and remain pervasive even after they discover a beach -- miraculously named Heaven's Mouth, the name the boys made up when they hit on Luisa in the first place. But "Y Tu Mamá También" never loses its fun and free comedy and humanity.

Cuarón culls such superb performances from his talented cast that he can wander off on amusing, detailed tangents without fear of losing track of his characters -- and the film's intentionally haphazard atmosphere benefits greatly as a result.

The only times "Y Tu Mamá" seems to lose its way are moments in which the director focuses a little too closely on the boys' any time/anywhere sexuality. Maybe it's just me, but even when I was a teenager I never masturbated with a buddy. So when I see that in a movie, I just don't buy it. Does anybody actually do that?


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