Quinceañera Review

Quinceañera (2006)

Plot: Magdalena is quickly approaching her Quinceañera. However, being the daughter of an impoverished storefront preacher, she will not be receiving the party of her dreams, one to rival her cousin’s celebration. That particular Quinceañera had a Hummer limo with a stripper pole, but Magdalena will instead receive a hand-me-down dress and a regular mode of transportation to her party, sans stripper pole. Alas, Magdalena quickly realizes she has bigger fish to fry: she is pregnant via outercourse, a fact that both her boyfriend and father refuse to believe (they believe she’s pregnant, but they don’t believe the baby is not the result of penetrative intercourse). Her boyfriend abandons her because he believes she cheated, her father kicks her out because he thinks she’s a hussy, her friends ridicule her for her supposed outrageous lies about the baby’s origins… it’s a tough life for our hero, and it makes the Hummer crisis seem minor in comparison. Magdalena goes to live with her eccentric, 80-plus-year-old great-uncle, Tomas, and her homosexual cousin, Carlos. In spending time with both men, Magdalena realizes the true meaning of family. She also learns that it isn’t the size of the Quinceañera party that matters, it’s what you do with it. Well, wait, no… she doesn’t learn that. Her father eventually realizes she wasn’t lying about how she became pregnant, and to make up for the fact that he tossed her out of the house, he gives her an elaborate party, complete with, you guessed it… a Hummer limo with stripper pole! The movie ends with Magdalena parading around at the celebration with a huge self-satisfied grin, because she knew she was right.

Characters: Magdalena (the main character with an unfortunate plight), Tomas (the older gentleman-type/great-uncle/patriarchof the family), Carlos (the homosexual cousin who guides Magdalena through her predicament), Ernesto (the boyfriend), Eileen (the spoiled cousin).

Setting (Place/Time): 2000s in Echo Park, Los Angeles.

Moral (?) of the story: Sometimes the problems that you have in your own life are minor compared to the ones your loved ones are dealing with. Also, don’t discredit the help that your family members can give you, for they will never abandon you, except for when they believe you’re lying about how you conceived your baby.

Acting: Nothing to write home about.

Plusses: The movie brings to light an issue that isn’t much discussed in sex ed. classes: you can get pregnant without having full-on sexual intercourse. The subsequent pregnancy was treated in a realistic manner—the girl is kicked to the curb rather than dealing with a supportive family (except for at the end of the film), the boyfriend doesn’t want his seemingly-successful future to be derailed, and the girl’s friends mock and abandon her as well.

Minuses: It’s interesting to think that in the end, everyone believes Magdalena and accepts her plight unconditionally. She gets her over-the-top party that her parents can ill-afford, complete with the Hummer limo. This does not seem like a realistic reaction to a teenage pregnancy. Then again, I watch 16 & Pregnant, so I know that oftentimes the parents react in what may seem an inappropriate way to the expectant teen by throwing her a lavish baby shower. Maybe the movie just wants us to be more accepting of miraculous events and not be so judgmental. I was not a fan of the ending, however. It just seemed too tidy and too implausible for me.

Overall impression: When I was younger, I read snippets of an autobiography of Suzanne Somers. She noted that when she was seventeen or so, she became pregnant as a result of non-penetrative intercourse. When I watched this movie, I drew a parallel between Suzanne’s experience and that of the main character of this film. I’m pretty sure that was not the intention of the director, and yet there it is. Either way, the film was enjoyable, right up until the end when I just became aggravated that the girl was rewarded for her pregnancy with an over-the-top party. I think the money spent on the Quinceañera would have been better saved for the impending birth and childcare of the baby that Magdalena is carrying.

Grade: B

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