The Mexican Movie Review

Brad and Julia! Julia and Brad!! Together for the first time!!!

Or not. The Mexican has the distinction of being a romance that manages to keep its lovey-dovey costars further apart than any film since Sleepless in Seattle. Not that there was any way around it. Brad Pitt's Jerry is a completely hapless bagman for a shifty mob boss (Bob Balaban), sent from L.A. to Mexico to retrieve the titular objet d'art -- an antique pistol.

This doesn't sit well with his difficult yet practically-a-wife girlfriend Samantha (Julia Roberts), who swears she'll move to Las Vegas if he goes on the job. Bound by honor and/or the threat of death, he goes. And so does Julia.

And so the adventure begins.

In a convoluted tale of double-crosses, stolen identities, Mexican curses, language barriers, and closeted homosexuality, The Mexican romps through more genres (romance, comedy, adventure, drama, Western) than it does miles of Mexican roadway. Jerry finds the gun, and its deliverer gets killed. Sam heads off to Vegas and gets herself kidnapped. Twice. People come back from the dead. Characters get killed off unexpectedly. A dog barks. Tequila is consumed.

Indeed, much of The Mexican plays out like highfalutin nonsense, with Jerry the most ridiculously incapable courier ever put on this earth. He's endlessly losing the gun while inexplicably retrieving it again and again. He never learns a lesson about hiding valuables while managing to figure out the complex plot against him. Meanwhile, Sam is content to simply nag nag nag. If she can't bitch out Jerry on the phone, she's happy to bend the ear of her kidnapper to wax on the topic of love in the zeroes, thus screwing up his life, too.

Much to everyone's relief, a lot of this banter manages to come across as the witty humor it's intended to be. Even in one of her most grating roles on film, it's hard not to like the overpowering Julia. And Brad, well, Brad's dunderhead comes across as the good-natured pendejo that he really is. Pitt amuses, and while Gore Verbinski hasn't come far as a director since Mouse Hunt, the jokes pay off more often than not, and the unexpected twists in J.H. Wyman's script liven up the picture considerably. That's good, because at two hours in running time, the movie is much too long to support its ultimately frivolous guts as a harmless road trip picture.

Altogether the film is likable enough and perfect for young, moviegoing couples during an early spring. But sadly, I'm already starting to loathe The Mexican's influence. Case in point: On the way home in the car, my wife just wouldn't get off my back about the VCR. Julia, what hast thou wrought?

Sleepless in Mexico.


The Mexican Rating

" OK "

Rating: R, 2001


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