Instructions not Included (2013)

InstructionsNotIncludedPoster

By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Four Beers) –
How many beers do you recommend for this movie?
1 Beer! A Toast! Great Movie!2 Beers! Good Movie!3 Beers! Okay Movie!4 Beers! Mediocre Movie!5 Beers! Awful Movie!6-Pack! Bad movie! Do not be Sober!

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Valentin Bravo (Eugenio Derbez) is a man about town in Acapulco, Mexico.  He takes advantage of the Tourist spot to go through more trysts than he can keep track of.  He particularly focuses on Americans, using his inability to speak English to his advantage in endearing himself to them, by making him appear more exotic. He plays the field often, not because he’s particularly amorous, but because he fears commitment, which is why his world is turned upside down when an old flame appears out of nowhere, hands over a baby who she says is his, and skips town.

Stuck with a half-American child, Valentin crosses into the United States without a visa with the child, and attempts to find the mother.  While he fails to find the mother, he decides to stay in America, knowing he’ll have a better way of making a living to provide for little Maggie.

Instructions

Ok, “provide” may not be a strong enough word…

After seven years of living a comfortable life, his situation is once again turned upside-down when the mother comes back into the picture, and takes him to court for custody.

A Toast

Actor/Writer/Director Eugenio Derbez is a massively well known comedian in Mexico, and on American Spanish-Language television. INI was a 12 year passion-project for the rising star, having a significantly larger budget than most Mexican films, due to its ambitious scope for a comedy and due to shooting in both Mexico and the United States.

Love and care went into the project in every aspect, and it feels like he genuinely wanted to create a film with crossover appeal.  To his everlasting credit, the comedic elements of the film are generally well staged and creative, using a blend of slapstick and situational elements which he undoubtedly honed on Mexican television.

Bee Guy

Which is very serious business (bee’s-nus?)

Derbez and young actress Loreto Peralta have fantastic chemistry as Father and Daughter.  They play off of each other’s quirks quite well, and maintain a palatable sense of familial love for each other.

Beer Two

While I definitely admire the film’s attempt to blend comedy with drama, the dramatic elements fall somewhat flat.  In his attempt to blend the two elements with roughly equal measure, director Derbez creates a series of tonal shifts which are most easily compared to Bollywood cinema (minus the extended musical sequences)

which is a plus or minus, depending on your outlook

Beer Three

At nearly 2 hours, and with more plot twists than a mystery thriller, this movie felt like it was trying to do 3 movies worth of story in one film.  This translates to a movie that gets off to a very promising start, and loses steam over time.  With some judicious edits, and some script rewrites to tighten the story, this could have been something really great.

Beer Four

The film has a tragic plot twist which feels needlessly forced in to make the movie a tear jerker.  When it is is finally revealed, the audience finds themselves trying to search their memory for hints dropped along the way.  While there are a couple, they don’t provide enough basis of understanding for such a sudden and sad turn of events.  Without spoiling anything, suffice to say that symptoms which should have been a hint are more or less nonexistent.

Verdict
4Beers

Clearly the audiences have spoken, as this has been a surprise success at the box office.  However, dramatically, this feels like a missed opportunity, with tone elements that really don’t gel with the comedy.

 

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: when Valentin lies to Maggie about her mother

Take a Drink: when a wolf appears out of nowhere

Take a Drink: for prat falls.

Drink a Shot: for stereotypically evil caricature

About Oberst von Berauscht

Oberst Von Berauscht once retained the services of a Gypsy to imbue in him the ability to accurately describe the artistic qualities of a film up to seven decimal points. To maintain this unique skill, he must feast on the blood of a virgin every Harvest Moon, or failing that (and he usually does), he can also make a dog do that thing they do where they twist their heads slightly (you know, when they’re confused about something) at least a few times a week. I’ve gotten way off track here… The point is, Oberst is one of the website’s founders, so… yeah

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