Film Review of: ¿Y los tamales?


∞Nicole Castillo

¿Y los tamales?

***Spoilers Ahead*** This film is being shown at the Latino Film Fest and you can catch it one more time at the Digital Gym Cinema on March 26 at 11:00 am. Ticket prices: $9.50 for students, 11.50 for general public.
The synopsis for this film is “In this hilarious Honduran comedy produced by local producer Monika Tuncbilek, a cab driver is tasked by his wife with picking up tamales for Christmas Eve. En route, he picks up a diverse array of characters, including a “Bad Santa” and a thief, resulting in an evening unlike any other.” (Monika Tuncbilek is from Chula Vista).
Walking into this film my expectation was for it to start off at the home of the couple. Then the wife would realize they needed more tamales and would send the husband off to get them. Then along the way he’d pick up a few people. That was not the case.
This film starts off at the mall and follows different people around. From the mall 3 characters end up in this man’s cab: the bad santa, a stripper, and a gay man. While the cab driver is driving around, his wife calls and tells him to make sure to pick up a lot of tamales. He makes many stops to different women’s homes to pick up his “gift,” which is a bag of tamales. He also stops at a few homes of men. Throughout all of this his passengers aren’t complaining much about being taken on all these errands instead of being taken to their destinations. The characters end up at a party, where they pick up the thief, later on they go to a strip club, and finally  they have a heart to heart about what they really wanted to be doing with their evening. The cab driver, realizing he may have ruined their night, invites them to come along to the event with his wife. It ends with the cab driver dropping off the “Bad Santa” character at home where you discover he has a little boy.
This movie did not work well for me. Knowing that it was made on a low budget by local filmmakers, I put aside the fact that it wasn’t well shot at times. As soon as the film started I was very confused about what was going on and how it’d get to the part of the cab driver. The film did not make sense until a little bit before the title screen was displayed. I did not understand why it was following around a gay man and this women with revealing clothing. I understood it following the Santa character around a bit since the narrative for this film takes place on Christmas Eve. There was hardly any dialogue which is what made it very confusing. When the cab driver is introduced the film breaks the 4th wall. He talks to the audience every so often throughout the film.
The film played too much with infidelity and sexual comments towards women. A lot of the women wore revealing/tight clothing. At the party a women is wearing a costume(?), she’s dressed as a skimpy maid and the camera is set at worm’s eye view. Her skirt is very short and you can see what she’s wearing under. Also they made a distasteful rape joke about this straight women trying to make the gay man straight by raping the gay out of him. This movie was so hard to watch at times due to the misogynist jokes being made and the portrayal of this queer character and the jokes that would get made towards him. The only joke I loved was when you discover that he and his dad act like straight men around each other but are both actually queer. It took so much not to walk out of this theatre at times. Also when they are at the strip club, the stripper character does a dance. She is mostly bent over and the camera focuses on her ass a lot. I can understand like a 30 seconds off that but it was like 5-10 minutes of her ass on the screen and these men around her staring at this part of the body. It felt really demeaning.
There was a Q&A after with the executive producer where I learned that this film is the type of thing that people love in Honduras. They love raunchy films of this nature. I am a fan of raunchy films as long as it is in good taste. To me the raunchy parts were not in good taste. It was hard to watch and there was only a few times that I laughed. I applaud the people who made this film though for knowing who their audience is and what they like to make this film a success. This film will screen this December in Honduras. I am confident it will do well out there.
This is just my opinion of the film. I am not confident about recommending this film just because it did not work for me. Although it didn’t work for me if the information I’ve discussed peaks your interest or you feel on the fence about this film I would say to go out and watch it.