Mexican TV star Eugenio Derbez breaks into feature film making in Instructions Not Included, a sweet, funny and poignant comedy that he co-wrote, directs and co-produced. Derbez also stars as Valentin, an Acapulco playboy whose bachelor lifestyle screeches to a halt when one of his tourist lovers shows up on his doorstep with a baby - his baby.
The movie’s Spanish title translates as “No Returns Accepted,” a much more appropriate description of this story about a daughter no one wants - the mother, Julie (Jessica Lindsey), flees, and Valentin follows her to the United States to attempt to return the kid. Six years later, when Valentin has established a lucrative career as a stuntman, and baby Maggie (the perfectly bilingual Loreto Peralta) has grown into a blue-eyed, blond-haired bundle of delight, Julie tracks himdown, ready to be a part of her daughter’s life.
Aimed squarely at a Hispanic audience - there’s at least one joke centered on a Mexican song that English-only speakers may not get, despite subtitles - Instructions Not Included nonetheless speaks to universal themes about love, fear, parenthood and death in the context of a quintessential Los Angeles story in which immigration is touched on, if not significantly engaged.
The performances are stylishly cartoonish, and an aggressive score pushes the script toward melodrama, but there’s a lot of movie here with unexpected developments, held together by the irresistible chemistry between Derbez and his adorable pint-size co-star.
Instructions Not Included 86 Cast: Eugenio Derbez, Loreto Peralta, Jessica Lindsey Director: Eugenio Derbez Rating: PG-13 , for sexual content, thematic elements and language Running time: 115 minutes
MovieStyle, Pages 35 on 09/06/2013
Print Headline: Instructions Not Included