SPARE PARTS tells the true story of a teacher who led four Hispanic high school students in an underwater robotics competition against America’s elite academic colleges. Forced to face various obstacles as illegal immigrants, the students must learn to quickly come together as a team and go head-to-head for the robotics competition title. Fighting through fear, disappointment and disadvantage, the team eventually finds itself in a battle with highly favored MIT for the underwater robotic title.
SPARE PARTS is a truly inspirational movie, and all the more so because it’s based on a true story. The movie will have viewers on the edge of their seats during the competition and keeps the audience guessing until the end who wins. That said, the story feels more suitable as a television movie and doesn’t quite fit the big screen. There is also some offensive content that warrants strong caution, including a child possesses drugs, sexual innuendo, and illegal immigration. On the other hand, much of SPARE PARTS is an entertaining movie with positive messages promoting hard work, honesty, personal accountability, and treating others well.
(BB, CapCap, PC, L, V, N, DD, M) Strong moral, capitalist worldview that matches biblical viewpoints, including teachers and parents offer encouragement and promoting honesty, treating others well, not letting others down, holding others accountable for decisions, integrity, with some content about illegal immigration that seems a little politically correct; three instances of a**, mention of butt, joke about kicking someone in the groin, student calls another a name but it’s mostly unintelligible; school bully punches student in stomach and shoves a couple more, plus some men are shown being arrested during opening song to establish movie’s setting; no sexual content, though opening song may imply wanting sex though nothing is said directly; upper male nudity while changing a shirt; no alcohol; child gets busted for having drugs at school, but nothing is shown and using drugs is not validated; and, students and their families are illegal immigrants, some homes without fathers, students use tampons to fix robot, and one student puts them in his ears and nose as a joke.
SPARE PARTS is an inspiring true story with some problems and some positive values.
Carl Hayden Community High School in Phoenix, Arizona serves as the backdrop to this true story. It opens with a teenager named Oscar approaching one of his teachers, Fredi Cameron, to help him build a robot for an underwater robotics competition hosted at the University of California. As a child, Oscar was brought to the United States by his mother as an illegal immigrant and wants to find a way out of his current situation. His dream to join the Army didn’t happen, so he decides to use science as a way to build a future for himself.
Mr. Cameron, an engineer by trade, is entertaining other job offers. This makes the students and fellow teachers nervous that he would leave before seeing the project completed. He agrees to help Oscar build the robot and mentor the robotics team, but Oscar has to find three other students to go along with him.
Oscar chooses three other school misfits who have the skills necessary to design and build an underwater robot. Like Oscar, they too face family and legal challenges as they are all undocumented immigrants. Together with Mr. Cameron, they are able cobble together a design on a shoestring budget, prepared to go up against other high school teams across the country and complete the necessary underwater missions required to win the competition.
When they arrive in California, they decide to enter the competition against the elite colleges of the nation instead. They reason that, if they fail, at least it will be to the best talent there is. Fighting through fear, disappointment and disadvantage, the team finds itself in a battle with highly favored MIT for the underwater robotic title.
SPARE PARTS is a refreshing switch on the type of character that George Lopez (Mr. Cameron) usually plays. As he mentors the high school students and even steps in as a father figure at points, he comes across as a gentle and inspirational example for the students to admire. Though this is a theatrical release, it looks a bit like a TV movie, so the story doesn’t seem large enough to fill the big screen.
There is some minor language and violence, as well as some slightly inappropriate (yet ingeniously funny) content that warrants strong caution (see our CONTENT section). Overall, however, the positive story in SPARE PARTS overshadows much of this, leaving viewers feeling inspired and rooting for these students who manage to rise above their circumstances and find new hope for the future.
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