Movie Recap: Instructions Not Included

Eugenio Derbez has been in several of the films I’ve been watching for this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month special. This time in this film Instructions Not Included he doesn’t only star in this film, but he directs it too. I admit having no interest in watching this film when it first came out, then I began to hear lukewarm reviews. I decided to leave it for another time, and I regret doing so. Derbez has been in my life for a good part of it. I recall watching his tv shows at a young age “Derbez en Cuando,” “Al Derecho y al Derbez” and many others. I always thought it was smart for him to find a title where he can integrate his last name and make it work. As an adult I still find myself watching his shows “La Familia P.Luche,” “Vecinos” (which he isn’t in but he created). Seeing him make the jump from television comedy to Hollywood films has been a blast. I thoroughly enjoyed the remake of Overboard, and his other movies too like How to Be a Latin Lover, Under the Same Moon, Dora and The Lost City of Gold. He is also the voice of donkey in the Shrek films (in Spanish). Eugenio Derbez has had a great career, and I’ve been lucky enough to be one of many to be entertained by his content.

Derbez is known for his goofy simplistic comedy, so when I was younger I thought it was hilarious, but now it sometimes hit or misses. The film starts with pure comedy as we see Valentin (Derbez) as a casanova who carelessly has intercourse with many women yet he’s terrified of commitment. One day one of his previous lovers comes back into his life and drops off their child. Valentin hasn’t had any responsibilities, he is clueless on how to raise a child, so he decides to return the baby to his mother, who lives in the United States. After arriving in the hotel where Julie supposedly works, he’s told that she is no longer working there, but he doesn’t understand. Baby Maggie is crawling near a pool (left there because a sign of “no children allowed” was posted on the hotel) and falls into it. Valentin is on the 5th floor looking for Julie and sees the baby has fallen into the pool, so he instinctively jumps off the balcony directly into the pool. He saves Maggie and earns a job as a stunt man.

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The film slowly moves towards a serious and dramatic tone. The comedy is still present, but as the movie progresses the comedy decreases. I fell in love with Maggie the moment she grew up and was her father’s translator in all the scenes he filmed. The chemistry between Derbez and Peralta is excellent. Their believable father and daughter bond is the heartbeat of this film. As Maggie grows up, Valentin makes certain parental questionable decisions. Of course, later in the movie, the mother returns wanting to get acquainted with Maggie. Valentin, however, has been writing letters to Maggie (pretending to be her mother) so she wouldn’t forget her and grow up with rage towards her. Later in the film, we see the legal battle for Maggie’s custody.

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The ending of this film ultimately left me heartbroken. It left me thinking about my parental choices and whether or not I’ve been living life to the fullest. I was surprised to see some of the cameos in this movie. I loved how they played with the language barrier with Valentin and the translation aspect. Some words have different meanings and can’t be necessarily translated accurately to the other language unless you know the exact meaning. The film isn’t perfect, but its message is a beautiful one. Please watch this film and message me with your thoughts.

Instructions not included

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