Manero

Mala, Malísima

By: Yehudit Mam

Loreal and Maybelline appear in the opening and closing credits of A la Mala, a Mexican comedy brought to the US on the strength of its colossal box office in Mexico. This is crass but not surprising, as this movie is heavily made up, fake, and transparently cosmetic. It has the look, feel and depth of a commercial, not because of product placement but because of incompetence.

Director Pitipol Ybarra cuts as if he only had thirty seconds to tell the story. It is all exaggerated reaction shots, needlessly extreme close ups, and loving takes of women's butts and legs. You could confuse it for an ad for pantyhose, tequila, make up, cars, tires, anything but a movie. Nothing is more unforgivable than a director who takes passable actors and forces them to act like idiots.

The bad acting, the dreadful writing and the unspeakable directing made me want to take myself to an emergency room to relieve me of the feeling of wanting to crawl out of my own skin.

The movie presents itself as modern and progressive because it looks sleek and is about upper middle class Mexicans. Quite the contrary, its mindset is retrograde. The gist goes like this: Mexican women are so insecure about their relationships with men, and Mexican men are all such cabrones, as it's endlessly repeated, that women pay beautiful Maria Laura (a.k.a. Mala), a struggling actress, (Aislinn Derbez) to flirt with their boyfriends so that they can know if they are cheating on them. According to this movie, all Mexican adults over the age of five still behave as if they are five. This is supposed to be the progressive twist: Mala turns tricks on behalf of women!

Worse, her conflict hinges on some corrupt woman producer who gives her an acting break on condition that she seduce her ex-boyfriend (a handsome, rich and benevolent tequila magnate) and then dump him so she can get back with him. And she agrees.

And just so we know that Mexico is at the forefront of openmindedness, the magnate's assistant is a stereotypical raging fruit, and no one seems to mind! That in this day and age the most popular Mexican movie is a celebration of sexual and emotional immaturity that purports to be with the times, makes me so unbearably sad that after the emergency room, I think I might need antidepressants.

LOGISTICS: A la Mala, now in selected theaters aimed at Latinos, who should demand better. 

Yehudit Mam has been in love with movies since her mom took her to see Krakatoa, East of Java when she was a little girl. She is a film blogger, a creative director in advertising, and cofounder of dada.nyc.