Original Title: No se aceptan devoluciones
Director: Eugenio Derbez
Genre: Comedy, Drama
07.02.2020: This review was first published on 03.06.2018 and is being updated for a more complete review, together with the publishing of the YouTube Version.
Hello! Welcome to Ulven Reviews!
Eugenio Derbez is the director and the main star of Instructions Not Included, a Mexican movie about a womanizer turned into single father making a life for himself as a stunt double in Hollywood.
World Cup Historic
The traditional Mexico team is a FIFA associated since 1929 and played in almost all editions of the tournament. The most bizarre moment they were left out was in 1990 when they were banned in consequence of a corruption scandal. Imagine if they banned every country or professional team involved in corruption. Football would be eternally amateur.
Mexico were hosts of two world cups, in 70 and 86. The hosts of 86 would be Colombia, but they renounced as hosts due to the economic troubles the country was facing.
The two times Mexico hosted the tournament, they reached the Quarter-Finals, and until this day, the best record for them. Every other participation, they reached round of 16 but never going further.
Guess what happened in 2018?! They reached the round of 16 and lost to Brazil. A match stained by Neymar faking an injury after barely being touched, and every comment from former professionals about it.
When Valentín (played by Eugenio Derbez) was a kid, his father, Johnny Bravo (played by Hugo Stiglitz), made him face his worst fears to prepare him for life, to make him a courageous person, but as an adult, he remained a coward man.
Years later, he was living his life, having one-night stands with random women in his Acapulco home, until a woman called Julie (played by Jessica Lindsey) showed up in his door with a baby girl, allegedly his daughter. The woman disappears, leaving the baby girl with Valentín.
He crosses the border to the US illegally and goes to Los Angeles, trying to find Julie to give her the baby back. The man, usually afraid of everything, does crazy stunts to protect the baby, and that’s how he meets Frank Ryan (played by Daniel Raymont) that offers him a job as a stunt double.
Seven years later, Valentín and the daughter, Maggie (played by Loreto Peralta), have a comfortable life from his stunt double work. During a medical appointment, the doctor says to Valetín that, due to some incurable condition, he and his daughter won’t have much time together.
In this inopportune moment, Julie returns to their life, wanting to reconnect with Maggie.
No se aceptan devoluciones
The reception from the critics and the public are opposites. In Rotten Tomatoes, the Tomatometer from critics is at 57% of positive reviews, while the audience score is 89%. Also, the IMDb average score from the users is 7.5, while the Metascore from Metacritic was 55.
I found this discrepancy quite curious. It usually happens when a movie has a political stance, or some people see it as such. So there’s more objectivity from critics, and part of the public unite to troll. That’s not the case with Instructions Not Included.
The critics point to a lack of originality, emotional manipulation, tear-jerking melodrama, and so on. I agree with the critics in many of these points, but in general, my view of the movie is more positive.
There’s definitely a lack of originality. One of the movies I remembered while writing the review was Big Daddy (from 1999) with Adam Sandler. In both films, an irresponsible man suddenly becomes a father, and this role makes him mature.
Sometimes, the whole ordeal with Julie reminded me of Kramer vs. Kramer (from 1979). The mother leaves the child with the father and then returns sometime after, trying to fix the mistake and reconnect with the child.
They dealt decently around the terminal illness issue, as a harsh subject that they handled with humor. But in the third act, it did, in fact, become a tear-jerking, emotional manipulation.
It’s a funny movie, but sometimes, it gets a little cheesy and even childish. There is some dark humor as well, like the Coyote smuggling people in awful conditions through the U.S.-Mexico border, and it was better than the silly jokes.
The acting is one of the best points of the movie, especially from Loreto Peralta, who was only nine at the time of the film but completely took over. Her innocent appearance also helps to get the viewer’s sympathy.
As a character, she is also compelling, a smart and cheerful girl who acts as a translator and “spokeschild” to the father. Peralta speaks fluent English and Spanish, probably raised bilingual.
Eugenio Derbez does also decent acting as Valentín, an all right character, that I had some issues with. First of all, Eugenio Derbez is not exactly a man I would characterize as a sex symbol to be so wanted by gorgeous, random women.
Another thing that bothered me about Valentín is the contrast between his cowardice and how courageous he becomes for Maggie. I know the point they were trying to make, but the disparity is too exaggerated.
However, he does the essential, that is a loving father doing his utmost to have the best quality time possible with his little girl. That’s actually the whole core of the movie, this relationship between father and daughter.
One of the crazy things Valentín did for Maggie was her room, a young child’s dream, and really well done. But I think they went too far, too over the top, like most things in the movie.
Valentín’s house in Acapulco has a different approach, more minimalist, and with a coastal vibe. The whole place, and the people in it, seem freer than when they are in Los Angeles.
The colors are vibrant and warm, an ideal choice for the beautiful Acapulco to the sunny urban L.A., being constant throughout the whole movie. It’s not an awful gimmick like 13 Reasons Why or Traffic (from 2000).
There are some very beautiful shots in the film, but I have to confess that the highly saturated colors, even though fitting the settings, gave me the awful impression of sweatiness.
The score is a fundamental part of the critics called emotion manipulation. The kind of dramatic music used in Mexican Telenovelas that I particularly find very tedious. One of the weakest points for me.
Instructions Not Included is a funny comedy with a beautiful message. It knows when to be serious, knows how to move our feelings, but definitely has many flaws. 7 Moons.