Ali is a grocery bagger who lives with her mother. She sells stolen booze to fat kids. Her best friend claims to have a gorgeous spouse from India. She is afraid of driving cars and falling in love with boys.
In other words, she is the average teenage girl. For those who watch Arrested Development, Ali is a lot like Maeby Bluth: often in rebellion simply for the sake of revolt. When fellow bagger and love interest Julio comes on the scene, she has to deal with all the classic dilemmas of young romance. The story is simple, but the script is witty enough to make the ride worthwhile.
The movie is a little unbelievable in that Ali’s friends and family consider her absurd behavior so mundane they often seem crazier than her. The soundtrack makes the movie feel Juno-esque, fitting for a movie almost identical in plot except without a pregnancy.
But right around the halfway point, Ali’s stubborn resistence to everyone in her life begins to turn from endearing to obnoxious. My ultimate problem is that the actions of the protagonist do not follow much logic. Ali is afraid of emotional attachment because of her mother’s failed love life, but is unreasonably jaded when the movie makes all of her current problems seem internally driven. Everyone around her is well-intentioned and patient, making her incessant and causeless squabbling somewhat baffling. When her actions bring things crashing down, all she is left with is a blank stare.
But this isn’t psych class, and I have always failed to understand the reasoning of teenage girls. With a solid helping of suspended disbelief and appreciation of Spanish curse words, I ended the film having thoroughly enjoyed it. Ali may not have the idiosyncratic charm of its American counterparts, but succeeds in providing an entertaining comedy full of quirky jokes and classic teenage girl problems.
Ali plays at Seattle International Film Festival
June 6 at 7:00 PM at Harvard Exit
June 8 at 11:00 AM at SIFF Cinema Uptown
Director Paco R. Banos scheduled to attend both screenings
Language: Spanish with English subtitles
Age recommendation: 13+
More info at siff.net