Hilarious and heartwarming comedy.
Eugenio Derbez is the director and star of INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED (No se Aceptan Devoluciones) (2013). Derbez as Acapulco’s resident bachelor Valentin Bravo. Valentin’s promiscuous lifestyle stalls when a vacationer from his past, Julie (Jessica Lindsey) leaves her adorable baby girl on his doorstep. As Valentin struggles with his newly acquired parentage–he is also on a quest to find the mother of his baby girl, Maggie. “Instructions” satire the way the immigration law errs on the side of parental obligation and rights–Valentin decides that the only way to reunite baby Maggie with her mother is to sneak into the country and head to Los Angeles, the last known whereabouts of Maggie’s impetuous mother.
If attempting to cross the border illegally is a difficult feat in itself, Valentin does not speak English and finds himself involved in a series of complicated misunderstandings that will eventually lead up to his earning a living as a Hollywood stuntman. The remainder of the film becomes a tad cliched–Valentin eventually steps up and becomes a great father to Maggie (now played by Loreto Peralta) and spoils her with toys, visits to the movie sets where he works and sensationalize tales about her mother. Just when we think everything is going to go well. Julie decides that she is ready to take part in Maggie’s life. Here is when the film becomes emotionally wrenching and to say more about what exactly happens will of course, spoil the drama and unpredictable and arresting end of the film.
Where the film is slapstick comedy, it is also clever by way of intertwining the emotional heavies of parenthood, and the realities of life in general. However, there are moments where the plot misses elaborating on some of the issues that occur between both adult parents–even misses out a bit on the emotional issues of the films young co-star.
Just as life, Instructions Not Included (2013) is sometimes an enjoyable film. Although viewers may be left with the feeling that some of the poignant issues were abruptly resolved to fit time constraints–or pragmatic. It does a great job emphasizing that not all things–including parenting, is ever perfect.