OBJECTIVE: Give Bill twenty bucks every month. Watch the foreign film he brings back without any subtitles. Figure out what the hell is going on.
Y TU MAMÁ TAMBIÉN (2001, Mexico)
REMAINING CHANGE: Two dollars and some change.
THE PLOT AS I UNDERSTAND IT:
¡Now’s a good time to commit that crime you’ve been planning, because we’re packing up and going to Mexico! You already knew that sentence was going to be exciting because Spanish inexplicably tips you off right at the beginning. Carrying on in that grand tradition, Y Tu Mamá También is a road trip movie in which the viewer knows how it will end before it even begins—in the most annoying threesome. So buckle up – seriously, buckle up, guys, because I can’t afford to get a ticket – and go with me on this most unexpected journey to the Mordor between Maribel Verdú’s thighs. Bill is going to go apeshit over that mixed metaphor.
The movie stars an old Sub Zero favorite, Gael García Bernal. You may remember that the last time we saw Gael, he was a dude who murdered and then posed as a dude who had become a chick in order to play that dude/chick in said dude/chick’s autobiographical movie. Here’s Gael:
Combine this movie with Bad Education and I’ve seen his butt more than his face.
I’m not sure what his name is in the movie because he’s mostly called “pendejo” or “cabron,” so I’ll call him Gael. That man leering at him in the shower stall is his best friend, who I’ll call Lesser Gael. Together, they form a formidably douchey team. Gael and Lesser Gael are very juvenile, which is probably due in part to the fact that Lesser Gael’s dad is some sort of rich Mexican politician (a totally legitimate thing) and the two have been raised without ever knowing want. That being said, although they’re annoying brats, they’re not bad guys; in fact, they have a strong and genuine friendship that plays out onscreen. For example, they have races in Lesser Gael’s swimming pool, horse around in the supermarket, and jerk off on diving boards right next to each other. You know, friend stuff.
At an upscale fancy wedding, Gael and Lesser Gael totally punk a guy who challenges their douche supremacy. Gael “accidentally” makes the dude, who is wearing a white suit, spill his wine all over himself. Unbeknownst to me, spilling wine on yourself is the most unforgivable sin to commit at fancy Mexican weddings. If you had asked me before I saw this movie what is the worst thing a person can do at a Mexican wedding, I would have said “attend.” Just to make sure they finished the job, the two then mack on the guy’s girlfriend after she banishes him to eternal damnation, probably.
I hope she would have punched him in the face if he gave her enough room to move her arm.
That cornered woman is Lisa. Well, it sounds like they call her Lisa, but it is probably something a little different. Lisa is astonishingly nonplussed by Gael and Lesser Gael’s flanking maneuver. How can she be so tolerable when she’s being hunted for meat by the douche pack? ¡Well, it might surprise you to know – or at least it would have, had I not used Spanish punctuation again – that Lisa is dying! It’s most likely from the shame of having a boyfriend who spills wine. Or maybe cancer.
Yep, that vixen is not long for this world. She gets the death sentence from the doctor and goes back to her home an understandable mess. She even gets a break-up call from her boyfriend, presumably because he was so haunted from spilling his wine that he must do the honorable thing and kill himself lest he be seen as a false idol who can spill wine at a wedding and not kill himself for it.
Depressing fact: Lisa cries every time she uses the phone in Y Tu Mamá También.
Forced to face her suddenly inevitable mortality, Lisa calls Lesser Gael and says, “Fuck it. I’ll go with you on that road trip I guess you told me about at the wedding, but I’m not entirely sure if you did because James doesn’t speak Spanish.” And thus, Lisa signs up to be the hottest chaperone for Gael and Lesser Gael’s field trip.
Mexicans drive on the right side of the road? End the immigration debate, they’re one of us.
Did I mention earlier that there’s a narrator in this movie? There’s a narrator. I’ve become fully inoculated against narrators at this point in Sub Zero. They do their deep-voiced blabbity blabbing and I stop hearing it.
Now that the Unholy Trinity are on the road to some destination their stoner friend told them about, it’s time for some ol’-fashioned road trip wacky antics like speeding up the car whenever somebody tries to get in, leaving grief-stricken voicemails to an old lover at pay phones, and having separate and distinct two-second sex sessions with teenage travel companions.
What I would do to her if I had even half that time…
It turns out their constant flirting leads to sex, and then having sex with each boy while the other boy knows it’s happening creates jealousy and anger. I, for one, am shocked. Apparently, Lisa is as well, because she storms off after Gael and Lesser Gael pull over to have a screaming match. Lisa is, of course, righteous in being frustrated both for each boy’s untimely performance and their childish jealousy. Really, those two kids were acting like children. It’s like she had sex with children. Luckily for us, the two babies fighting over a toy bury the hatchet quickly and chase after Lisa, who agrees to continue the road trip after setting down a list of 10 rules (a callback to an earlier scene in which Gael and Lesser Gael list ten rules, but I didn’t mention it because nobody should really care).
Mercifully, the three reach their target destination.
That sure is a beach, alright.
The beach is nice, and they do beach stuff. Also, a family shows up on a small boat, and they hang out with the family and play soccer and stuff, which is nice. Then they all get really, really drunk in a kickass beach town/bar with a jukebox and they all become best friends again.
Seriously, look at that jukebox.
Well, at least until that seasoned siren seduces both of them at the same time and brings about the inevitable threesome. Yeah, all that time Gael and Lesser Gael spent showering and jerking off together might have been a clue, but it took getting their knobs slobbed at the same time to realize they just needed to finally kiss. Once they wake up from their black-out drunk, they’re decidedly not stoked about having just boned together. Meanwhile, Lisa dips peacefully into the clear blue ocean, and that is the last we see of her.
Some indeterminate yet short time later, Gael and Lesser Gael meet for coffee like grown-ups. They also wear clothes like grown-ups. Essentially, Lisa ruined them. Lesser Gael asks Gael if he’s heard about Lisa, then tells him that she passed away. They sit silently and awkwardly for a while, then shake hands and go their separate ways.
THE “OKAY, YOU LOST ME” MOMENT:
Approximately seven minutes into the movie, Gael and Lesser Gael and driving somewhere and they pass a dead man in the road at a crime scene. What kind of monster kills an innocent man in sweatpants eating a sticky bun then rips off one of his shoes?
He had his whole unfruitful life ahead of him.
HOW MUCH I ENJOYED WHAT I THOUGHT WAS HAPPENING:
I’m not ready to pass judgment on this movie. I know I didn’t get a lot from it, but I’m also fairly certain that this movie would have benefited greatly from subtitles. So far, I’ve seen movies that need don’t need subtitles (Samurai Princess, The Killer), movies that need subtitles to explain the plot (Bad Education, and to some extent Waltz with Bashir) and movies where subtitles would have reinforced what I thought I liked onscreen (Amelié, Run Lola Run). Russian Ark can get fucked. This movie falls into the Amelié camp. I’m missing some important layers, so I’m going to give this one another run through with subtitles to see if my analysis is correct.
And now, Cinemanaut Bill ranks James on his ability to comprehend the film.
- Nailed it: Nice work figuring out that the protagonists are douchebags despite not understanding any of the shitty things they’re saying. Good catch on the cancer and the Top Ten lists and the double beej. Wait, I have no idea how a blowjob can be lost in translation, but I’m suddenly curious to find out?
- Failed it: As much as you were probably hoping this was the Mexican version of Weird Science, her name is Luisa, not Lisa, and the fellas are Julio and Tenoch. J and T find out halfway through the trip that they’ve both banged each other’s girlfriends, which you never mentioned, so I’m guessing it went over your head. The sticky bun guy was a migrant bricklayer that was hit by a bus due to poorly designed pedestrian walkways, which creates some super inconvenient traffic for our well-off douchebag pals. Spilling wine on somebody is a big deal if they’re about to meet the President, but thankfully El Presidente left early to deny involvement in a massacre. Also, you, uh, noticed all the poor people that Julio and Tenoch didn’t, right?
- Improved it: Man, that is an awesome jukebox! We should talk about a Jukeboxes of Mexico road trip the next time we’re jerking off together.
FINAL GRADE: B-