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DVD Review: Mi Verano Con Amanda

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Four young misfits out for a summer vacation's fun and games survive a series of mishaps and wind up happily fulfilled at least for awhile, if not necessarily ever after. One or the other of them has to deal with problems growing pot, a catatonic fear of bugs, and failure to perform sexually, and this collection of problems as well as a Job's list of others is what passes for a plot in the 2008 Spanish language comedy, Mi Verano Con Amanda (My Summer With Amanda), now available on DVD with English subtitles.

Joel "El Rockero Loco" Contreras, the central character, is a shy, wannabe film director who is in love with a beautiful actress/model whom he has never met. Too timid to approach her, he nevertheless remains true to his love and refuses to chase after other women. While Contreras does manage a nice innocence on screen, he is not above mugging for the camera. And since the script puts him and his friends in one silly situation after another, he and the rest of the cast have plenty of opportunity.

The other three members of the crew are stereotypes out of any number of "young guys out for a good time" movies. Francis Rosas plays Fabio, a drug-addled faux philosopher. Erik Rodriguez is Chicho, the fat slob character made famous by John Belushi. Eugene Rodriguez is RS, the rich guy who knows all the angles, can get the girl, but can't quite manage to seal the deal.

Tania Rodriguez is fetching as Amanda, the conniving object of his affections, a girl only interested in men with money or position. She gets to wear a lot of sexy outfits, but really has little to do other than appear bitchy and look angelic, which is pretty much par for the course in this kind of escape farce.

Writer director Benjamin Lopez manages to put together a film that is heavy on titillating suggestive erotica and indulgent depictions of bodily functions and light on effective plot development and character nuance. The film is unrated. Although there is no outright nudity, there are enough discussions of sexual activity and simulations of some of that activity to keep the teen crowd out of the theaters. And this is a shame, since this is the crowd that could be the most likely audience for the film. There is nothing like gas and excrement to impress a growing boy.

Filmed in Puerto Rico, Lopez does include some beautiful scenery to complement the women in bikinis, but it is always the bikinis that get the lion's share of attention. Quite obviously Lopez knows his target audience.

Some of the extras on the DVD include bloopers and interviews with the director and the stars. Unfortunately these are all in Spanish, and there are no subtitles. I should also add that the subtitles for the film itself could use some editing. There are a lot of spelling errors, usage problems, and missing words. Subtitles are a necessary evil. At their best they distract the viewer from the visual action, at their worst they destroy any verisimilitude, by calling attention to themselves. Subtitles need to be unobtrusive. Silly errors call attention to themselves and away from the film.

Here's a look at the trailer:

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About Jack Goodstein