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.