Review: ‘Mamitas’

A high schooler flirts with oblivion but is redeemed by a brainy girl and his long-lost professor dad in "Mamitas."

A cocky high schooler flirts with oblivion but is redeemed by a brainy girl and his long-lost professor dad in writer-director Nicholas Ozeki’s earnest feature debut, “Mamitas.” Every bit as cliched as it sounds, pic offers a dramatically crude, overly familiar take on the bad-boy-turned-good story. At its best, it offers young thesps E.J. Bonilla and Veronica Diaz-Carranza a showcase for their range, and some auds might be won over, spelling possible distrib bites and fest invites for this minor indie.

Impossible with his teachers and a would-be Lothario with the ladies, Jordin (Bonilla) finds himself suspended for a week from high school. He’s intrigued and challenged by A-student Felipa (Diaz-Carranza), whose self-assured manner exposes him as a poseur looking for attention. Time away from school allows Jordin contact with solid adult figures such as his chummy but ailing grandpa (Pedro Armendariz Jr.) and a dad (Joaquim de Almeida) whom he hasn’t seen in years. Felipa’s character becomes frustratingly secondary to Jordin’s, whose simplified quest for family and personal identity forms the pic’s core. Filmmaking is plain-wrap all the way.



A Right Brain Films presentation in association with Sofias Pictures. Produced by Adam Renehan, Andrew Daniel Wells. Co-producers, Jordan Auten, Stefano Valentino. Directed, written by Nicholas Ozeki.


Camera (color, DV), Andrew M. Davis; editor, Melissa Brown; music, Joseph Trapanese; production designer, Julie Ziah; costume designer, Gina Correll Agiletti. Reviewed at Screen Actors Guild Foundation screening room, Los Angeles, June 10, 2011. (In Los Angeles Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 117 MIN.


E.J. Bonilla, Veronica Diaz-Carranza, Jennifer Esposito, Joaquim de Almeida, Pedro Armendariz Jr., Jesse Garcia, Michael Esparza, Kimberly Burke, Alex Fernandez. (English, Spanish dialogue)

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