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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 11/1/02

Y Tu Mamá También
Unrated Version - 2001 (2002) - MGM/IFC Films/Good Machine (MGM)

review by Adam Jahnke of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Y Tu Mamá También: Unrated Version Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A-/C-

Specs and Features

105 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, Amaray keep case packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 58:51 in chapter 20), audio commentary (by actors Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Andrés Almeida), the Me La Debes short film, 3 deleted scenes, the Detrás de Y Tu Mamá También documentary, TV spot, theatrical trailer, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (32 chapters), languages: Spanish (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

Director Alfonso Cuarón is about to hit the big time. Having put the Harry Potter movie franchise on its feet, director Chris Columbus is bowing out to take a presumably well-deserved break. With Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Cuarón will be taking the reins of Warner Bros.' most important cash cow. If you want to see what landed him this coveted gig, I highly recommend tracking down a copy of 1995's A Little Princess, a terrific family movie that more than demonstrates Cuarón's gift for handling young actors. But if you really want to see what else he's capable of, tuck the kiddies into bed and give the decidedly more adult Y Tu Mamá También a spin.

Y Tu Mamá También (which translates as And Your Mother Too) focuses on Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna), two friends just out of high school. Like many young men their age, most of their energy is directed into getting laid, getting high and having fun. With their girlfriends off in Italy for the summer, that first objective is easier talked about than actually accomplished. But an opportunity presents itself at a wedding, when Tenoch is reintroduced to Luisa (Maribel Verdú), the wife of his arrogant writer cousin. The guys suggest that Luisa join them on a road trip to Heaven's Mouth, an idyllic, secluded beach. After Luisa's husband confesses to sleeping around while on the road, she agrees to the trip... and nobody's more surprised than Julio and Tenoch. They'd made up Heaven's Mouth on the spot. But, not wanting to squander such a golden opportunity, they pick Luisa up and embark on a seemingly aimless journey across Mexico to a place that apparently does not exist.

At first glance, Y Tu Mamá También may appear to be just another road movie, albeit one with more explicit sex. But if the sex were all that stood this movie apart, it wouldn't be all that different from a Spanish-language episode of Red Shoe Diaries. Fortunately, Cuarón fills the movie with living, breathing characters from top to bottom. In addition to the three leads, peripheral characters and incidents are fleshed out, often with no more than a well-framed shot or a few incisive lines of dialogue. Cuarón, together with his brother/co-writer Carlos Cuarón, have a great deal to say about class issues, politics, familial relations and, of course, sexuality. The movie uses a device common in literature but rarely seen in film: an unseen, omniscient narrator. This takes some getting used to at first, but ultimately the concept works, giving the movie more depth than it would have had without it. Y Tu Mamá También is a surprising, funny and ultimately very moving film, that I suspect will stay with me and grow in my estimation as I revisit its many detours and off-roads.

MGM has released two versions of Y Tu Mamá También on DVD: the unrated director's cut and a separate R-rated version, running about 5 minutes shorter. I wouldn't waste my time with the R-rated version. This is an unabashedly adult film, both in subject matter and in its presentation. If you're grown up enough to watch it in the first place, you'd might just as well see the full version that the director intended. Its appearance on DVD is a pleasant surprise. I'd missed it when it played theatrically, but the trailers and TV segments I'd seen on the movie looked very bland and washed out. As it happens, this is a vibrant, beautifully shot film. The sun-baked look of Mexico is captured nicely, whether it's the middle of the day in a desert village or twilight at the beach. Colors are accurately represented and artifacting is at a minimum on this 16x9 enhanced, dual-layered disc.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is fairly basic (presented in its original Spanish with English subtitles), but does have some surprises up its sleeve. I was particularly impressed by the sound in the underwater scenes. Utilizing the entire sound field, this is one of the few films I've seen that accurately captures what it sounds like underwater.

As for special features, this is an instance where what's promised on the back cover sounds a lot more impressive than it actually is. Most problematic is the audio commentary by Bernal, Luna and Andrés Almeida (who plays Julio and Tenoch's pal Saba). This might be one of the all-time great commentaries. Or they might be talking about where they want to have lunch afterwards. I have no idea because the whole thing is in Spanish and no subtitles are provided. Everything else on the disc is carefully translated, from the deleted scenes to the "making-of" documentary, so this is a huge mistake. If you speak Spanish, have a good time with this. If you don't, prepare to be annoyed.

Also featured is the short film Me La Debes (translated You Owe Me One), directed by Carlos Cuarón. It's a fine little short, but apart from the fact that it was made by the director's brother and is about sex, it has absolutely nothing to do with Y Tu Mamá También. Me La Debes is a broad sex farce about some wacky bedroom hopping amongst a Mexican family. Its tone and style is completely at odds with the more thoughtful Y Tu Mamá También and, in the final analysis, it doesn't really belong here. The three deleted scenes are brief and fairly useless. One of them isn't even really a scene. It's more like they had a couple of minutes of film left at the end of a reel and, instead of wasting it, let it run out on a shot of an old guy (briefly featured in the finished film) demonstrating his whistling abilities. The only bonus feature that's worth exploring is the making-of piece, Detrás de Y Tu Mamá También (cheekily translated as Behind Your Mother Too). This is done in the same style as the movie, with the omniscient narrator introducing us to the cast and crew. Unlike most documentaries, there are no interviews here, just plenty of behind-the-scenes footage. It's put together well and has some good laughs, but if you're genuinely interested in the making of the movie, you'll be disappointed. Nowhere on this disc is anything about the genesis of the story, the casting, the production... you know, the things that go into the making of a movie.

Y Tu Mamá También is a very good film that you may well have overlooked during its theatrical run earlier this year. As such, it's well worth seeking out on DVD. But if you're already a fan of the movie and are looking for more, let the English-speaking buyer beware. I enjoyed the feature and was looking forward to delving into the special features, but the deeper I got, the more frustrated I became. If there's anything worse than a DVD with no extras... it's a disc with extras you can't enjoy.

Adam Jahnke
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