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Victor is growing up on the Lower East Side and is at the age where he is driven by desire and unchained by maturity. His image as a ladies man is shattered when he is found in Fat Donna's bedroom. Soon, as a result of his sister's big mouth, the whole Dominican community knows. Full of confidence, Victor sets out to reclaim his image by winning Judy. Judy proves to be elusive and difficult. Victor persists, and with a surprising tenderness, ultimately wins Judy's heart. Written by
"Raising Victor Vargas" is one of those light, family movies that you can watch and do the N.Y. Times crossword puzzle at the same time. And if you want to go to the kitchen for a taco and a Corona, you don't have to "Pause" the DVD. Just let it roll, 'cause you won't be missing anything really important. No twists, turns, or tension. It's not really an ethnic movie, it's a movie about a poor, struggling immigrant family that happens to be Latino. They could have been any ethnic group. It made very little difference. I've seen it all a zillion times before. Just plug in a Jewish family, an Italian family, a Black family, or an Irish family. Just the accents and names were different. If the Vargas family was named Bush or Clinton and were Presbyterians, the movie would have been a total snooze.
It's funny that the critics here couldn't get the locale straight. Some said it was Spanish Harlem. Some the Bronx, and another Brooklyn. As a life-long New Yorker, I vote for the Lower East Side. And it seemed that the family never met up with anyone except other Latinos. They lived in an insulated/isolated little enclave. Some interaction with non-Latinos might have created some excitement, interest, or tension. Remember West Side Story?
And now for the oft-criticized cinematography. I don't know if it was my TV or what, but all the indoor shots looked very ORANGE to me. The apt, the furniture, and the faces were all ORANGE. What was that supposed to mean? And the apt. did look pretty cramped to me. Somebody here mentioned that the old apt's/tenements had very big rooms. Well, maybe 50 years ago. What landlords have done is to break up one big apt into 2 or 3 very small ones and squeeze as many immigrants as they can into them.
And another annoying thing ....This is the second family movie I've seen and criticized this week that featured a teenage boy "jerking off". Is this private sex act necessary for us to watch? Please spare me! What's up with these directors?
So "Victor Vargas" is a pleasant little movie. It was nice for a change to see young Latino actors given a break and a chance to show their talents, which they did. But the writers let them down, giving them a flat, unspectacular script to work with. Enjoy the show, but keep your fingers near the "fast forward" button.
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