A BETTER LIFE

Heartfelt Family Drama

Content -2
Quality
None Light Moderate Heavy
Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: June 24, 2011

Starring: Demian Bichir, José Julián, Dolores Hereida, Joaquín Cosío, Carlos Linares

Genre: Drama

Audience: Older teenagers and adults

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 98 minutes

Address Comments To:

Rob Friedman, CEO/Chairman
Summit Entertainment
1630 Stewart Street, Suite 120
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Phone: (310) 309-8400
Fax: (310) 828-4132
Website: www.summit-ent.com

Content:

(CC, B, PC, FR, LLL, V, N, AA, DD, MM) Strong Christian worldview with moral elements in the tale of a struggling illegal alien Catholic gardener who tries to make a better life for his teenage son by buying a truck and opening his own business, with tragic results, marred slightly by politically correct tone siding with the protagonist’s status as an illegal alien breaking several laws and protagonist has to rely on bending the rules and evading the legal system in order to survive, leading to an antinomian or lawless (and possibly libertarian, “open borders”) attitude toward the illegal immigration issue; at least 39 obscenities (including one “f” word and some “s,” “h” and “b” words) and four profanities; light violence includes one fistfight between teenagers, teenage boy gets stuck on barbed wire fence, brief chase scene, thieving dishwasher tips a bunch of glasses onto man to get away, and another scene where the movie’s main teenage boy punches and kicks an older man after the older man steals his father’s truck and is caught; no sex scenes or sexual immorality but some teenage kissing; some naturalistic upper male nudity; casual drinking is seen in a few scenes, including a nightclub through which the father walk, but father also arrives home drunk one night after his truck is stolen, but this is seen as a tragic moment and inspires the son’s change of heart toward his father; no smoking and minor teenage character appears to be holding a marijuana cigarette; and, some miscellaneous immorality such as gang members try to lure the main boy and his friends into gang life and speak glowingly about it but boy eventually declines, illegal alien father bends the rule of law in order to maintain his life in America, and teenage son is frequently disrespectful towards his father until about halfway through the movie, but the second half shows him deeply apologetic and helpful towards his father.

Summary:

A BETTER LIFE is a small but very effective movie about an illegal Mexican immigrant in Los Angeles and his teenage son, who go on a desperate citywide search for the father’s stolen new gardening truck. A BETTER LIFE is a riveting, heartfelt family drama with positive Christian references, but it has some light politically correct elements to its story and contains too much foul language, so strong caution is advised.

Review:

A BETTER LIFE is a profound and welcome surprise. It’s a small movie that tells a beautiful yet somewhat tragic tale of a single-father gardener named Carlos trying to establish a solid future for his son Luis despite the fact that his own life is limited by being an illegal immigrant in Los Angeles, although he has a devout Catholic faith, which is depicted through his home’s pictures of Jesus and Mary, as well as his praying. Carlos has had to work seven days a week for years. Consequently, his son, Luis, has been left without a moral compass at the dangerous and pivotal time of his early teenage years, when he’s tempted by the lure of gang members.

Things for Carlos seem to take an upturn when he borrows $12,000 from his sister to buy his boss’ truck and equipment to launch his own gardening business. Carlos is determined to take Sundays off and spend more time with Luis.

Regrettably, on his first day working for himself, a fellow day laborer steals his truck and sells it, leaving Carlos financially and emotionally devastated. It is here, in seeing his father heartbroken, that Luis finally shows him respect rather than scoffing at him for being a laborer. The son tries to make amends for his disrespect by joining his father in a desperate citywide search for the vehicle.

[SPOILERS FOLLOW] Ultimately, they find the truck, but Carlos gets pulled over by police, who find he lacks a license or proper registration papers. The authorities imprison Carlos and decide to deport him. Luis desperately tries to see his father one last time before he’s sent back to Mexico, leading to a heartfelt meeting between father and son.

A BETTER LIFE is a riveting, heartfelt family drama with positive Christian references. The good news is that the story shows the son deciding not to get involved with gang life and help his father.

It may be easy to assume that a movie like A BETTER LIFE, in portraying illegal immigrants sympathetically, has a political agenda, but it mostly leaves politics out of the equation, even though it clearly sides with Carlos and his plight at the end and thus finally becomes a politically correct message movie.

The movie’s power lies in the father and son relationship, and the movie’s ability to show the world – in this case Los Angeles in all its wealth and squalor – through the eyes of characters seldom seen on the screen. It points out in many ways how isolated the lives of illegal aliens can be. Though Carlos is seen as a religious Christian, the movie’s focus is on his efforts to remain in the United States as an illegal alien.

Thus, while A BETTER LIFE is not overtly political, its emotional power leads to an immoral antinomian, or lawless, tone that could convince many impressionable viewers to support amnesty for illegal aliens. For example, although Scripture commands believers to treat the alien well, it also requires aliens to obey the law. Poor people in Latin America have a much tougher life than those in the United States, but that doesn’t give them the moral right to cross the border illegally and thus cheat the other, more righteous would-be immigrants standing in line for legal approval to become a U.S. citizen.

In this light, it’s interesting to note that the original story comes from former liberal, now fiscal conservative, defense hawk and social libertarian, author and blogger Roger L. Simon, who, because of his libertarian attitude on social issues, may take a libertarian position favoring “open borders” as well.

Ultimately, the bigger problem with the movie is its number of obscenities and profanities, which is excessive, though most of the ones used are not strong enough to warrant an R rating. This will limit the potential audience for A BETTER LIFE.

In Brief:

A BETTER LIFE is a small but very effective movie about an illegal Mexican immigrant in Los Angeles and his teenage son. Carlos, a single father, works hard as a gardener, but his son Luis doesn’t respect that sacrifice. Things look up when Carlos borrows $12,000 from his sister to buy his boss’ truck and tools to launch his own business. A devout Catholic, Carlos is determined to start taking Sundays off and spend more time with Luis. Carlos is devastated, however, when the day laborer he befriended steals his truck and tools. Luis tries to make amends by joining his father in a desperate search for the vehicle.

A BETTER LIFE is a riveting, heartfelt family drama with positive Christian references. The good news is that the story shows the son deciding not to get involved with gang life and help his father. Though A BETTER LIFE is not overtly political, it shows how isolated illegal aliens can be. Thus, impressionable viewers may come away taking a more left-wing stance on the issue. Ultimately, however, the bigger problem is the number of excessive obscenities and profanities in A BETTER LIFE.

HEADLINE: ** Heartfelt Family Drama **

Title: A BETTER LIFE

Quality: * * * * Acceptability: -2

SUBTITLES: Partly in Spanish with English subtitles

WARNING CODES:

Language: LLL

Violence: V

Sex: None

Nudity: N

RATING: PG-13

RELEASE: June 24, 2011

TIME: 98 minutes

STARRING: Demian Bichir, José Julián, Dolores Hereida, Joaquín Cosío, Carlos Linares

DIRECTOR: Chris Weitz

PRODUCERS: Paul Junger Witt, Christian McLaughlin, Chris Weitz, Jami Gertz, Stacey Lubliner

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Tony Thomas

WRITERS: Eric Eason

BASED ON THE NOVEL/PLAY BY: N/A

DISTRIBUTOR: Summit Entertainment

CONTENT: (CC, B, PC, FR, LLL, V, N, AA, DD, MM) Strong Christian worldview with moral elements in the tale of a struggling illegal alien Catholic gardener who tries to make a better life for his teenage son by buying a truck and opening his own business, with tragic results, marred slightly by politically correct tone siding with the protagonist’s status as an illegal alien breaking several laws and protagonist has to rely on bending the rules and evading the legal system in order to survive, leading to an antinomian or lawless (and possibly libertarian, “open borders”) attitude toward the illegal immigration issue; at least 39 obscenities (including one “f” word and some “s,” “h” and “b” words) and four profanities; light violence includes one fistfight between teenagers, teenage boy gets stuck on barbed wire fence, brief chase scene, thieving dishwasher tips a bunch of glasses onto man to get away, and another scene where the movie’s main teenage boy punches and kicks an older man after the older man steals his father’s truck and is caught; no sex scenes or sexual immorality but some teenage kissing; some naturalistic upper male nudity; casual drinking is seen in a few scenes, including a nightclub through which the father walk, but father also arrives home drunk one night after his truck is stolen, but this is seen as a tragic moment and inspires the son’s change of heart toward his father; no smoking and minor teenage character appears to be holding a marijuana cigarette; and, some miscellaneous immorality such as gang members try to lure the main boy and his friends into gang life and speak glowingly about it but boy eventually declines, illegal alien father bends the rule of law in order to maintain his life in America, and teenage son is frequently disrespectful towards his father until about halfway through the movie, but the second half shows him deeply apologetic and helpful towards his father.

GENRE: Drama

INTENDED AUDIENCE: Older teenagers and adults

REVIEWER: Carl Kozlowski with Tom Snyder

REVIEW: A BETTER LIFE is a profound and welcome surprise. It’s a small movie that tells a beautiful yet somewhat tragic tale of a single-father gardener named Carlos trying to establish a solid future for his son Luis despite the fact that his own life is limited by being an illegal immigrant in Los Angeles, although he has a devout Catholic faith, which is depicted through his home’s pictures of Jesus and Mary, as well as his praying. Carlos has had to work seven days a week for years. Consequently, his son, Luis, has been left without a moral compass at the dangerous and pivotal time of his early teenage years, when he’s tempted by the lure of gang members.

Things for Carlos seem to take an upturn when he borrows $12,000 from his sister to buy his boss’ truck and equipment to launch his own gardening business. Carlos is determined to take Sundays off and spend more time with Luis.

Regrettably, on his first day working for himself, a fellow day laborer steals his truck and sells it, leaving Carlos financially and emotionally devastated. It is here, in seeing his father heartbroken, that Luis finally shows him respect rather than scoffing at him for being a laborer. The son tries to make amends for his disrespect by joining his father in a desperate citywide search for the vehicle.

[SPOILERS FOLLOW] Ultimately, they find the truck, but Carlos gets pulled over by police, who find he lacks a license or proper registration papers. The authorities imprison Carlos and decide to deport him. Luis desperately tries to see his father one last time before he’s sent back to Mexico, leading to a heartfelt meeting between father and son.

A BETTER LIFE is a riveting, heartfelt family drama with positive Christian references. The good news is that the story shows the son deciding not to get involved with gang life and help his father.

It may be easy to assume that a movie like A BETTER LIFE, in portraying illegal immigrants sympathetically, has a political agenda, but it mostly leaves politics out of the equation, even though it clearly sides with Carlos and his plight at the end and thus finally becomes a politically correct message movie.

The movie’s power lies in the father and son relationship, and the movie’s ability to show the world – in this case Los Angeles in all its wealth and squalor – through the eyes of characters seldom seen on the screen. It points out in many ways how isolated the lives of illegal aliens can be. Though Carlos is seen as a religious Christian, the movie’s focus is on his efforts to remain in the United States as an illegal alien.

Thus, while A BETTER LIFE is not overtly political, its emotional power leads to an immoral antinomian, or lawless, tone that could convince many impressionable viewers to support amnesty for illegal aliens. For example, although Scripture commands believers to treat the alien well, it also requires aliens to obey the law. Poor people in Latin America have a much tougher life than those in the United States, but that doesn’t give them the moral right to cross the border illegally and thus cheat the other, more righteous would-be immigrants standing in line for legal approval to become a U.S. citizen.

In this light, it’s interesting to note that the original story comes from former liberal, now fiscal conservative, defense hawk and social libertarian, author and blogger Roger L. Simon, who, because of his libertarian attitude on social issues, may take a libertarian position favoring “open borders” as well.

Ultimately, the bigger problem with the movie is its number of obscenities and profanities, which is excessive, though most of the ones used are not strong enough to warrant an R rating. This will limit the potential audience for A BETTER LIFE.

Please address your comments to:

Rob Friedman, CEO/Chairman

Summit Entertainment

1630 Stewart Street, Suite 120

Santa Monica, CA 90404

Phone: (310) 309-8400

Fax: (310) 828-4132

Website: www.summit-ent.com

SUMMARY: A BETTER LIFE is a small but very effective movie about an illegal Mexican immigrant in Los Angeles and his teenage son, who go on a desperate citywide search for the father’s stolen new gardening truck. A BETTER LIFE is a riveting, heartfelt family drama with positive Christian references, but it has some light politically correct elements to its story and contains too much foul language, so strong caution is advised.

IN BRIEF:

A BETTER LIFE is a small but very effective movie about an illegal Mexican immigrant in Los Angeles and his teenage son. Carlos, a single father, works hard as a gardener, but his son Luis doesn’t respect that sacrifice. Things look up when Carlos borrows $12,000 from his sister to buy his boss’ truck and tools to launch his own business. A devout Catholic, Carlos is determined to start taking Sundays off and spend more time with Luis. Carlos is devastated, however, when the day laborer he befriended steals his truck and tools. Luis tries to make amends by joining his father in a desperate search for the vehicle.

A BETTER LIFE is a riveting, heartfelt family drama with positive Christian references. The good news is that the story shows the son deciding not to get involved with gang life and help his father. Though A BETTER LIFE is not overtly political, it shows how isolated illegal aliens can be. Thus, impressionable viewers may come away taking a more left-wing stance on the issue. Ultimately, however, the bigger problem is the number of excessive obscenities and profanities in A BETTER LIFE.