A Day Without a Mexican
4 out of 10
6 out of 10
Movie Details: View here
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Caroline Aaron as Aunt Gigi
Melinda Allen as Ellen Abercombie
Frankie J. Allison as Officer Carr
Yareli Arizmendi as Lila Rodriguez
Todd Babcock as Nick
Maria Beck as Officer Sanchez
Yeniffer Behrens as Suzy
Arell Blanton as Chris
Cassidy Paige Bringas as Tracey/Lucy Abercrombie
Brian Brophy as Barney Montana
Elpidia Carrillo as Cata
Maureen Flannigan as Mary Jo Quintana
Suzanne Friedline as Vicki Martin
Joaquín Garrido as Jose Mendoza
John Getz as Senator Steven Abercombie III
Carlos Gómez as Jose Velasquez Diaz
Will Greenberg as Jeff Silverman
Raul A. Hinojosa as Abdul Hassan
Sabrina Howard as Lucy Quintana
Charles Kahlenberg as General Hoff
Muse Watson as Louis McClaire
Behind…A Day Without A Mexican
Music Video "Sin Decir Adios" by Los Yoguis
The original short that inspired the film
Original Trailer & TV Spots
Optional Spanish Menus and Subtitles
Running Time: 98 Minutes
This is the official synopsis of the film:
"One morning California wakes up to find that one third of its population has disappeared. A thick fog surrounds the State and communication outside its boundaries is completely cut off. As the day goes by we discover that the characteristic that links the 14 million disappeared is their Hispanic background.
California is in shock. The economic, political and social implications of this disaster threaten the Golden State's way of life. We delve into the lives of four characters: Mary Jo Quintana, teacher and housewife; Senator Abercrombie, suddenly upgraded to Governor; Louis McClaire, ranch owner and agribusiness representative; and Lila Rodriguez, reporter and apparently the only Latina left behind. For all of them, "the disappearance" forces the cracks in their private lives wide open.
Experts pose questions and offer theories: Could this be a UFO kidnapping? Biological terrorism? The Apocalypse and Latinos are the chosen ones? Or perhaps they just left because they were tired of being taken for granted.
As time goes by, the State continues to deteriorate: Garbage has taken over the streets and tears are permanently painted on the faces of most citizens as the 5th largest economy in the world tumbles. The realization that what has disappeared is the very thing that keeps the "California Dream" running – cooks, gardeners, policemen, nannies, doctors, farm and construction workers, entertainers, athletes, as well as the largest growing market of consumers – has turned Latinos and their return into the number one priority in the State.
Of course there are those who disagree. A baseball inscribed with hate and ignorance, is tossed at Lila Rodriguez. The last hope for answers has been destroyed. But as despair turns into quiet sorrow, deeply felt memories and heartfelt appreciation yield unexpected results.
Misunderstandings and humorous situations abound, making this a comedic satire…a modern fable, lesson included."
A Day Without A Mexican is rated R for language and brief sexuality.
I have to say that I liked the concept behind A Day Without A Mexican. The Hispanic population in the U.S. is in a unique position in that they are despised by some because of their illegal status, yet those same illegal aliens provide essential services to the American economy. And it's not just the illegal population that feels the prejudice. American born Hispanics feel it as well. So to have a movie explore what it would be like in a world without them was a concept that intrigued me. Unfortunately, the film itself isn't well executed. It drifts between being a comedy and a drama without ever mastering either and the look of the film is very low-budget. It also features stereotypes across the board that are sure to turn off some viewers.
When A Day Without A Mexican acts like a comedy, it can be quite amusing. For example, when the Mexicans disappear and one woman sees a white guy looting a Hispanic car, she berates him for stealing the CDs because he won't like the music. In another scene, a man gets stuck in a drive-thru when the Hispanic drivers in front of him and behind him disappear. Earlier on, when Lila Rodriguez tries to get a job as a newscaster, they ask her to do a fake accent to make her sound more authentically Latina. It's little touches like these through the film that are amusing. Unfortunately, the film frequently drifts into the realm of drama and becomes a bit melodramatic. Characters make dramatic speeches about missing their loved ones. A politician, so distraught about the disappearances and realizing he was a bigot, paints over a portrait of his racist father. It's a little hard to take this dramatic tone seriously when the movie is about a pink fog that surrounds California and magically zaps Hispanics. They should have stuck entirely to the comic tone to get their point across.
The movie also features a lot of stereotypes of its own. The racist politician and his wife are so annoying and so bigoted that you get sick of them quickly. The film also takes potshots at Christian characters in the film who believe the disappearance is the work of God and part of "The Rapture". They are made so fanatical and irrational that it, too, is a real turn off. They take equal swipes at Border Patrol Agents, newscasters, and other stereotypes. I'm not saying that these types of people don't exist. I'm saying that they are so over-the-top in the film that they come across as unrealistic. I think they would have drawn more sympathy and understanding if they had used real world, common people rather than caricatures.
The film doesn't look terribly good, either. They used digital cameras to film this movie on a low budget, but the picture at times looks worse than TV quality. It just had a real low budget feel to it that made it seem unprofessional. The mediocre acting didn't help much either.
One of the bright points in the film is the soundtrack. It's a great mix of Latino music. There are a number of tunes played including an interesting rendition of "Calfornia Dreamin'". Another nice touch is that they occasionally throw text on the screen that quotes statistics about Hispanics in California. They reveal what percentage of teachers are Hispanic, how many agricultural workers are Hispanic, how much money they contribute to the economy, etc. I knew all these numbers were high, but it was nice to have it spelled out, especially when it contradicted something a character would say on screen.
In short, A Day Without A Mexican is a film with a good concept and a few bright spots, but overall it fails in its execution.
There are a number of extras included on this DVD. Here are the highlights:
Behind…A Day Without A Mexican – This is your standard "Making Of" featurette. It shows the actors talking about how much they appreciate Hispanics now after having worked in the film. You also find out that Yareli Arizmendi who plays Lila Rodriguez in the movie was one of the writers. They discuss how they shot the film quickly and cheaply, what they were trying to accomplish, and more.
Music Video "Sin Decir Adios" by Los Yoguis – This song from the film is a nice tune. It's outside of my typical musical tastes, but it is well done even if you don't speak Spanish. It features clips from the film as well as footage of the band.
Outtakes – These are more "deleted scenes" than outtakes. There are three included here. One features more of the conspiracy theorist saying why he thought some Hispanics disappeared sooner than others. It's not that impressive and neither are the other scenes in this section.
The original short that inspired the film – A short mockumentary was the inspiration for the film. It's about a half hour long and features many of the same elements of the movie.
The Bottom Line:
A Day Without A Mexican has an interesting concept behind it, but the film ultimately fails in the execution of the idea. Still, I think this film will appeal to Hispanics quite a bit.