Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Flashback Review: "A Day Without A Mexican"

Hello again, everyone.

So, remember when I talked about Machete on Sunday? I think the thing that I remember most from the movie was the fact that there was enough anger against immigration laws to fill an entire cup with. It deals with incredible criticism, and somehow it's tough to ignore. It'll be the subject of a musing on the subject that'll come sometime tomorrow.

But we have more pressing matters. So today on HWR, I thought I'd go back to 2004 and take a look at another movie that criticizes the immigration debate, one far less well-known than Machete.

It's also quite a bit more obvious, which should be given away by the title...

A Day Without A Mexican

A pink fog has inexplicably settled all around California. This leaves the state in shambles, as not only does it cut off all communications, but it also makes every single Mexican in the state disappear. Thus, it takes a look at what happens when the Mexicans aren't there to do the labor that all the non-Hispanic people don't want to do, and at the various relationships put on strain by this.

So, right off the bat, we have a silly premise. It never dwells on the pink fog, preferring instead to focus on the impact of the Mexicans not being there. To that end, there are a lot of plot threads; there's a thread about one Mexican reporter that hasn't mysteriously disappeared. There's a thread about a senator. There's a thread about a white woman who's married to a Mexican. The list goes on.

As well, there are various statistics that are thrown in throughout the entire movie that rebuff common misconceptions about the Mexican population of America. The senator mistakenly believes that Mexicans and Puerto Ricans are more or less the same, for instance. (And as I pointed out in my Machete review, that is not the case at all; find me a taco in Cuba and I'll change my mind.) And it's merciless in this.

The problem with this setup, however, is that there are way too many plot threads crammed in there. Where did they all go is never explained, yet that part is dwelled on enough to be a problem. And there are so many plot threads in reference to how peoples' lives are affected by this it really crams it in there.

And that becomes a problem as far as storytelling goes. There are so many plot threads we're barely given time to care about the characters coming for them. On top of that, a good portion of the plot threads end up resorting to using various clichés to fight against the running time, and when we see a new cliché pop up it's a little distracting from the underlaying political message. It doesn't help that a lot of these clichés make the plot threads incredibly predictable after a while, and any tension the threads might have had vanishes when we can figure out how things end. (Two guesses as to how the plot thread with the Mexican reporter ends.) The combination means we don't really care enough about their reactions to really feel affected by them.

That's a problem on it's own. But when the clichés are omnipresent, it makes the anvillicious nature of the movie painfully obvious. Yes, it's an issue that deserves attention, but do you really have to beat it into our heads this much, movie? The film is so negative about the state of immigration laws in America and the subsequent unfair treatment of Mexicans afterwards that it starts to saw away at the viewer's mind instead of enlightening them. And by that virtue, watching it becomes a chore after a while instead of something that can enlighten us.

It doesn't help that most of the acting is incredibly spotty. Nobody really stands out as being particularly good, and oftentimes it distracts from the plot threads as well. The writing certainly doesn't help the better actors either, as when the film is called on to be emotionally grounded what often comes out is a generous helping of cheese that only serves to further call attention to the anvils being dropped.

And thanks to being bogged down by bad writing, acting, and plotting, A Day Without A Mexican ultimately falls short of every goal it sets out to achieve. It's an admirable effort, but it's not done well enough that I would consider it vital. I say; avoid the movie, as it's not that good.


This movie was highly disappointing, so it is highly recommended that you skip it.

This is Herr Wozzeck Reviews. I'll see you guys next time.

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