Casi casi (review)

It’s won honors at Latino-themed film festivals in San Diego, Boston, New York, Philadephia, and Chicago, but alas, it appears that all that distinguishes this slight, awkward teen comedy from the slew of Saved by the Bell knockoffs that populates cable TV aimed at kids is its Latino cast and Spanish-language dialogue. Sweet but dorky San Juan high schooler Emilio (Mario Pabón) has a crush on the most popular girl in school, Jacklynne (Maite Cantó), and with the help of his sweet but dorky gang, Emilio plans to capture her heart by running for student council president. Meanwhile, his ongoing battles with the absurdly villainous principal (Marian Pabón, Mario’s aunt) continue, though it’s never clear why she has it in for him, except that, well, she’s the villain. The simplistic storytelling, pleasant but adolescent themes, and performances more enthusiastic than accomplished limit the appeal of this one to the tween crowd, though it’s hard to see restless gradeschoolers who don’t speak Spanish enduring the subtitles. Extras include audio commentary with writer-director team of brothers Jaime and Tony Vallés, and a making-of featurette. [buy at Amazon]

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