RAISING VICTOR VARGAS is a winsome character study of a Dominican Republic family living in New York City. The family is led by the grandmother, who alone is raising her two grandsons and granddaughter.
Her eldest grandson, Victor, is a bit of a troublemaker who spends his summer days dreaming of romantic conquests. He tries to seduce a local neighborhood girl, who’s known on the streets as “Fat Donna.” He leaves her bedroom, however, when his sister finds out and shames him by telling her friend over the telephone. Victor angrily breaks the phone, which forces his grandmother to put a lock on the phone.
Victor sets his sights on a pretty girl named Judy, whom he meets by the pool. She holds him at arm’s length, until she decides that she can use Victor to keep away the more mature boys in the neighborhood who are always after her. Victor and Judy begin a tentative courtship. Meanwhile, Victor sets up Judy’s chubby little brother with his chubby sister. Victor’s sour-faced sister grudgingly puts up with the boy’s attentions, which mostly consist of polite conversation, flowers and sweet glances.
Slowly, the Roman Catholic faith of Victor’s grandmother and Judy’s gentle, careful instruction of Victor in how to treat a girl tames the wild boy, until a misunderstanding with his grandmother threatens Victor’s idyllic summer.
Despite the movie’s opening scene in Fat Donna’s bedroom, RAISING VICTOR VARGAS turns out to be a sweet romance. The grandmother’s attempts to raise her wayward grandson are touching and amusing. A scene in a church appears to positively influence Victor, giving the movie a light Christian worldview.
Altagracia Guzman is simply charming as Victor’s little, but indomitable, gray-haired grandmother. “You need me,” the grandmother keeps telling her grandchildren, a sentiment to which Victor eventually replies, “You need us.” Victor Rasuk and Judy Marte are also winsome as the two romantic leads.
Strains of Johann Sebastian Bach help mitigate the movie’s foul language, which is, nevertheless, significant. In addition to the gratuitous foul language, RAISING VICTOR VARGAS contains a scene of implied fornication between Victor and Judy’s two friends. Also, when Victor and his grandmother have their final tiff, Victor and Judy go off together and fall asleep in each other’s arms until morning, though there is no indication that any sex was involved, beyond some brief onscreen kissing.
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(C, LLL, S, N, D, M) Light Christian worldview about a Dominican Republic family living in New York City; about 78 mostly strong obscenities and 10 light profanities; no violence; implied fornication between two minor characters, teenager visits girl's bedroom, and teenagers sleep overnight; upper male nudity and teenage girl in underwear; no alcohol; smoking; and, sibling rivalry and rebelliousness.