Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Instructions Not Included

The surprise hit of the Labor Day weekend, with around $10 million in box office, is the stillborn Mexican comedy "Instructions Not Included," a perfect example of the puerile and scatological humor that in my review of "When Comedy Went to School" I labeled endemic to cultures that have not (yet) been transformed by the Jewish sensibility.

Just as not all cuisines are equal, not all humor is equal, and the Latin audiences who have been swallowing this slop (even awarding it a perfect A+ Cinemascore rating) should instead consider it a shonda (and a wake-up call).

The plot - such as it is - posits the Mexican TV actor Eugenio Derbez as Valentin, a walking Petri dish who's made time with all the local women and half the tourists in Acapulco. When one of his parade of conquests drops off a newborn baby, telling him she's his, he (after asking the woman "What's your name, again?") chases her to the airport to hand the kid back. He doesn't succeed in palming her off, but (through an act so far-fetched any idiot who tried it would be killed) gets himself whisked off to L.A. as the hottest stuntman in Hollywood. (As the brother of a stuntman and stunt coordinator, I note that the depiction of this work in "Instructions Not Included" goes beyond insulting to downright demeaning.)

All the while, Valentin raises young Maggie (Loreto Peralta) to the age of six, with diapers full of grade-school bathroom humor in the intervening years. It's an ongoing contest between Derbez and Peralta as to who can mug more for the camera; both lose. Then the baby mama, now a high-powered New York lawyer (at the firm of "Newman, Newman, Newman & Newman"), reenters the scene, equipped with a lesbian lover whose sole function is to shock Valentin (and several members of my audience) at a restaurant when it is she who joins their table. Need I say more? This movie is garbage in any language.

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