Purporting to show the American dream as seen through the eyes of Mexican immigrants on the streets of L.A., Lane Shefter Bishop’s “The Day Laborers” is a socially-conscious, well-meaning effort that oversimplifies and sentimentalizes the material into a Horatio Alger story about perseverance triumphing over great obstacles. Pic works so hard at being rousing that it doesn’t have time to give an honest depiction of hardscrabble immigrant life. It seems unlikely that “The Day Laborers” will find employment beyond sympathetic Spanish-lingo cablers and niche-minded vid retailers.
When three cousins from Sonora, Mexico, hop the border in search of Hollywood fame and fortune, they instead find themselves relegated to short-term construction employment and other odd jobs. Over time, the cousins start “movin’ on up” via a series of increasingly melodramatic (and implausible) circumstances: One becomes a drug dealer; one shacks up with a flamboyantly gay Melrose Avenue gallery owner; the other temporarily becomes the “kept man” of a bored Beverly Hills housewife. Gritty Super 16mm lensing adds a dash of authenticity.