Here is a story about real life—the pain of losing a loved one to death, teen angst, broken relationships, and the yearning for a better life. Teenager Miguel, called “Miggy” or “Mig,” recently lost his father, and he and his mother are worlds apart. She can’t cope with her husband’s death and lives apart from Miguel and his sister, Sunny. They have an occasional phone call but Miguel is not happy with her absence in his and his sister’s life. In one sad scene, he asks his grandparent if his mother has called. “No” he is told, and he looks dejected.
Miguel has his dreams, however. He longs to see a beautiful dancer dance in San Juan, if he can figure out a way to get there. He and his sister live with their grandparents. School isn’t easy either. Miguel gets into some fights and makes the unfortunate decision to drink and smoke. In fact, several underage teens drink in the movie. It is obvious Miguel is trying to numb the pain, but every so often he has a flashback of his dad and he can’t drive the hurt away.
He remembers how his dad would write stories about where he wanted to take his family, places he wanted them all to see. But Miguel’s bitterness with his mother is obvious when he says, “We didn’t even get to his funeral on time.” He adds, “I’m sorry, Dad.”
He remembers arguing with his mother while in the car and his mother almost hitting another car. Miguel and other teens look at magazines with scantily-clad women and Miguel fantasizes about the dancer he hopes to meet. However, another struggle in his family is the occasional wheezing of his sister Sunny, who has asthma. It seems that no matter where he looks—home life, school, or being with his friends, he encounters problems and pain.
The movie accurately portrays teen life in many social settings—the antics of teen boys who act crazy with energy at times, the awkward moments of liking certain girls, and the longing for a better life. Miguel likes a girl named Sophia. She reads his palm to tell his future but he is not sure if she feels the same way about him.
The film does portray the powerful feelings of grief—for example, in one scene Miguel is grieving for his father and runs into the lake and goes under the waves. It’s as if the waters—like his grief, is overwhelming him. He seeks escape.
Although the acting is fine and the story is realistic, the content of the film is very strong. There is a lot of language in the film, including the “F” bomb, not to mention underage teen drinking, the smoking of marijuana, and the teen boys looking at girlie magazines with posters of barely clothed women on the their walls. In one scene a poster is seen with a woman’s breasts almost completely uncovered with just a bit of her hair covering them.
Despite the realistic storyline of teen awkwardness, pain, and the difficulty of trying to find one’s way, the strong content prevents us from awarding the film our Dove seal for family-friendly viewing.
The Dove Take:
This movie is gritty, strong in content, and falls short of receiving our Dove seal for family-friendly viewing.