What You Need To Know:
Alejandro is a mixed character. On one hand, he is responsible and hard working. Yet, he has also been absorbed in to the world of adults where he lives. He drinks beer, steals, curses, and discusses sex with his friend as if he were an adult. Isamar gives in to her questionable friends, turning to prostitution. Alejandro often sounds more like a father to her. The content in CHOP SHOP warrants extreme caution.
(H, B, LLL, V, S, N, AA, MM) Light humanist worldview, mixed with some moral elements; 42 obscenities, no profanities; teenage boys fight, no blood; sex is discussed by young teenage boys, fornication is implied, and references to prostitution; young teenage boy in underwear; alcoholic drinking by many, including young teenagers; no smoking or drug use; and, stealing, disassembling down stolen cars to sell parts, selling stolen goods of all kinds, lying.
CHOP SHOP is the story of Alejandro (played by Alejandro Polanco), a homeless young teenager who finds a place to live, takes care of his older sister and works hard to make a living for himself, but that includes often working hard at stealing and selling stolen goods. Alejandro works in the ‘Iron Triangle’ a section of Queens with many body shops. He works at a shop for Rob (played by Rob Sowulski), who lets him sleep in a room above the garage. Alejandro works hard for Rob, learning the trade of auto body repair. His dream comes true when his older sister Isamar (played by Isamar Gonzales) comes to live with him. Though younger, Alejandro takes care of his older sister, Isamar. Together, they try to save money to buy a mobile-food van.
Along the way, however, Isamar becomes a prostitute, and Alejandro begins to steal and work at a local “chop shop” which disassembles stolen cars for parts. Alejandro and Isamar are able to get money to buy a used, broken down mobile-food van, which represents their dream. However, the van is beyond repair and cannot meet health codes. Alejandro ultimately strips it down and sells the parts. The movie ends with no clear resolution to any of the issues.
CHOP SHOP is a “slice of life” story Alejandro and his world in the Iron Triangle. All the shots are long and the action fits the humdrum of these people’s lives. In some ways, it often feels more like a documentary than a narrative story. There is no clear plot in the traditional sense, and the conflict is mostly internal as when Alejandro discovers that his sister has become a prostitute. While the story does not mirror traditional storytelling, viewers do begin to care about Alejandro. However, the abrupt ending is not satisfying. Viewers will want to know more.
Alejandro is a mixed character. On one hand, he is responsible and hard working. He locks up the body shop and works very hard at his job. He has a good friend his own age and is able to find happiness in the midst of the difficult circumstances. Yet, he has also been absorbed in to the world of adults where he lives. He drinks beer, steals and discusses sex with his friend as if he were an adult. Isamar has given in to her questionable friends and often Alejandro sounds more like a father to her than a little brother. Isamar goes into a life of prostitution in order to buy the van, in hopes that a food business will be their way out of their tough circumstance.
CHOP SHOP contains many instances of foul language, mostly coming from Alejandro. In fact all the negative elements, except for prostitution, involve this young teenager, which makes the elements even more disturbing. There are a few minor fistfights among the characters. Overall, it’s a small movie with some objectionable elements that opens the window to the lives of the poor and homeless living in the inner city.