Movie Review: 'Under the Same Moon'
Even Southwestern border Minutemen may find their resolve softening at this emotionally opulent tale of a Mexican boy's chutes-and-ladders odyssey to Los Angeles. Nine-year-old Carlos "Carlitos" Reyes (scene bandit Adrian Alonso) gets daily long-distance calls from his single mother, Rosario (the luminous Kate Del Castillo), who juggles two maid gigs a day in L.A. with the hope of someday sending for her son.
When Carlitos' grandmother dies, the whip-smart kid pays a pair of American students to smuggle him into the United States, using savings from his mother and his own part-time job assisting an illegal immigration operation. Nothing about Carlitos' stressed chaperones engenders our confidence; sure enough, the fraught border crossing devolves into a series of detours and close calls that test the boy's resourcefulness to the max.
Screenwriter Ligiah Villalobos strews Carlitos' and his mother's concurrent paths with enough incidents and characters to power a half-dozen movies. Of greatest consequence are Enrique (Eugenio Derbez), a self-serving migrant worker who becomes Carlitos' unlikely protector and Paco (Gabriel Porras), a courtly security guard who runs his own obstacle course trying to win Rosario's affections.
Villalobos and her director dispatch melodramatic complications and upbeat encounters alike with a button-pressing abandon that would be right at home on the pages of Dickens. "Under the Same Moon" earns its feel-good credentials with a surfeit of craft.
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