n his latest movie, Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón channels Mike Judge, adding an unbelievably sexy babe and putting the whole show on the road. The result is a rip-roaring comedy full of discussions about sex, masturbation, sitcom mix-ups, sex in bedrooms, sex in cars, dirty dancing, beach soccer, and even a towel-cracking locker room scene.
Y tu mamá también (“And Your Mother, Too”) must have had impressive PowerPoint cachet with investors. “Strong concept,” one might have whispered, “it will appeal to several demographic targets.” Another: “A veritable Mexican Pie.”
Two high-school boys—Julio (Gael García Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna)—come from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Julio comes from the lower-middle class and lives in an apartment with clothes hung on a line outside the window. Tenoch comes from wealth, his absentee father a diplomat or something—whatever—his home a contemporary mansion where a maid brings sandwiches while he watches VH-1. Tenoch doesn’t mind Julio mooching off him, because both are like, you know, slackers. They smoke pot together and have a little club with rules like “everybody has to masturbate.” At Tenoch’s family’s country club they actually do masturbate—lying on parallel diving boards, telling each other who they’re picturing. One particularly memorable camera angle from under the surface of the pool captures white blobs of semen plunking into crystal blue water. (Heh-heh, heh-heh . . . hey, Butthead, he just said artsy.)
At a bullfight they meet Luisa (Maribel Verdú)—wife of Tenoch’s writer cousin, secretly disconsolate because her husband is a cheating wuss for whom she is far too sexy. Tenoch and Julio drunkenly brag to Luisa that they’re on their way to a little-known beach called “La Boca del Cielo” (“Heaven’s Mouth”) and offer to take her with them. She later calls them out of the blue and says she’d love to go. Realizing they must take advantage of this unexpected acceptance, the boys borrow Julio’s sister’s station wagon and pick up Luisa. They head off toward the coast, but to no beach in particular, without realizing that they’re about to get a lesson in, um, like, “in women, in sex, in love—in life.” Yeah, that’s it.
Along the way Luisa has sex with both of them separately, to their respective senses of betrayal. Finally they stumble on “Heaven’s Mouth,” and in a glorious drunken scene near the end all three get naked, kiss, hug, and fondle. But the boys are so drunk that they kiss each other, and when they wake up, hung over, they’re too embarrassed to speak the love that dare not speak its name. Luisa the seductress looks satisfied. The embarrassed boys leave separately for home, and Luisa stays on in the dirty little village near the beach.
With about five minutes remaining, Y tu mamá también reveals its serious side: Luisa knew she had cancer all along (though her body, luckily, showed no ill effects, which is weird, because that physical-perfection-up-until-the-moment-of-premature-death is exactly what happens in Here On Earth and Sweet November) and must have been on some kind of hedonistic death mission. We remember the scenes of extreme Mexican poverty along the way (that didn’t, thankfully, detract from the humor in the station wagon); the juxtaposition of luxury and poverty even between Tenoch and Julio. And we think to ourselves: “Man, they really were clueless, weren’t they? They had some lessons to learn. Lessons in sex, in love—in life even.”
Instead, we get the Mexicano equivalent of two fartknockers. Beavis and Butthead’s assessment of their favorite music video stands in as the ultimate plug for Y tu mamá también: “Sex, guitars, and death . . . finally, somebody got it right!”