Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Under the Same Moon

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some mature thematic elements.
Profanity:Some mild language
Nudity/Sex:Some mild sexual references
Violence/Scariness:Child and other characters in peril, sad death
Diversity Issues:A theme of the movie
Movie Release Date:March 19, 2008
DVD Release Date:June 17, 2008

under%20the%20same%20moon.jpgAs the title suggests, there is a little bit of fairy tale moondust sprinkled over this story of a nine-year-old boy who runs away from his home in Mexico to find his mother in Los Angeles. As with all fairy tales, the magical glow makes possible engagement with some heart-wrenching themes that might be too disturbing if told in a more straightforward manner.
Rosario (Kate del Castillo) has come to the United States because it is the only way she can care for her family. Her son Carlitos (Adrian Alonso) lives with his grandmother in Mexico. Carlitos and Rosario do their best to stay closely involved with each other. He even asks her to describe in detail what she sees around her from the pay phone where she makes her weekly call to him so he can picture her as clearly as possible. But after four years, both of them wonder whether getting the money from America is worth being so far apart for so long.

When his grandmother dies, Carlitos crosses the border illegally, hidden in the car of an American citizen of Mexican heritage (“Ugly Betty’s” America Ferrara) and her brother.
Because Carlitos and Rosario are in America illegally, their efforts to find each other are especially treacherous. They have to look for each other without the help of police, social services, a phone directory, or the Internet, based only on what they know after four years of no contact other than their weekly phone calls.
Some adults Carlitos meets are kind to him but a strung-out junkie tries to sell him for drug money and a person from his past lets him down. Another illegal immigrant (Eugenio Derbez) at first refuses to have anything to do with him but gradually becomes his friend.
The story is formulaic and a little syrupy, but sensitive performances and skillful story-telling from writer Ligiah Villalobos (of “Go Diego Go”) and director Patricia Riggen hold our interest. As we see nine-year-old Carlitos and his mother Rosario wake up in the first scene, their scenes are intercut, making the mother and son seem so closely connected we do not realize at first that they are hundreds of miles apart. This sense of their bond throughout the film sheds a glow of hope over the harshness of the circumstances and makes us, for a moment, believe that we, too, are under the moon that shines gently on this mother and son.
Parents should know that this movie has some disturbing material. It is the story of a very young boy who runs away from home to find his mother, which involves crossing the border into the United States illegally. He is in danger several different times. There is a sad death. And while some Americans are kind, we get glimpses of the exploitive treatment of illegal immigrants in several different circumstances and the stresses of trying to support themselves and their families. There are some mild sexual references and characters drink and get a little tipsy.
Families who see this movie should talk about how their own members and friends first came to the United States. They may also want to talk about the different ideas about the treatment of immigrants that the U.S. has had over the years and the different proposals currently being debated.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy An American Tail (for children), In America and “El Norte” (for teens and adults).

  • Jenny

    Gee, I wonder when Hollywood will make a movie about the untold millions of struggling, working poor American citizens, who are black, brown and white, who are losing the battle to avoid homelessness, and those who have slipped between the cracks, due to the outsourcing that started in the ’80s, the Bill Clinton pushed through NAFTA, where millions of American jobs went to Mexico, thereby creating a large affluent Mexican middle class, more Mexican millionaires (Mexico is now the 14th wealthiest country in the world), and those few jobs that remained are now being given to illegal aliens from, Mexico, so the wealthiest here can get away with violating laws that were implemented to protect American workers from being exploited.
    How about a film about a down on their luck American family and their friends, who are experiencing real problems like hunger, and malnutrition. The mother has anemia, because they can’t afford to purchase healthy foods like produce. She eats one pitiful meal per day to try and stretch the meager amounts of food she can buy for her kids. Help America understand what it’s like to be thrown out of your apartment, and try to get help from a government that would prefer to spend our tax dollars giving benefits to illegals and giving them free grants to create small businesses.
    How about another film about a family of people who survived Hurricane Katrina, and the father is denied a job rebuilding the city, because the Halliburton subsidiary Kellog, Brown and Root lobbied the Bush administration to repeal Davis Bacon, and they instead hired illegal aliens from Mexico instead.
    How about one regarding a family of American citizens, where you see what it’s like for your father to die because he needs a transplant, loses his health insurance when his boss finds out about his condition. After fighting two years to get him on Medicare, you learn that Medicare no longer provides even a desperately ill person with access to much needed doctors. Watch the family lose their home, struggle with homelessness, and all other related problems. A few years later dad dies from a cancer that went undiagnosed because he was denied the specialist who would have diagnosed the cancer performing the blood tests that would have been ordered normally to moniter the progression of his condition.
    All these and many other problems go on, every day, every week to too many American citizens, they aren’t reported on, let alone made in to movies or written about. I think the entertainment industry needs to do more to raise awareness of the realities of the poor American citizens it either wants to pretend don’t exist, or simply doesn’t care about. The print media needs to get a heart as well and start reporting on the horrifying realties faced by the poor American citizens they find inconvenient as well.

  • Nell Minow

    All of those are good ideas, Jenny, and some of those stories have been told in films, usually independent films like this one, made by people like you who are passionate about the stories they have to tell.
    I am sure you do not mean to suggest that a story of hardship that reflects current reality is less legitimate than the many others that also deserve to be told.

  • Sophie

    It was too scary!! LOL
    Seriously, I liked it. It was mildly bad, so there’s no question my 9 year old daughter can see it though. But PG-13 does rock!

  • Miguel


  • Charlotte

    I am watching this movie in spanish class as we learn about history…. it is such a great story… very good points jenny and i agree…. but it is still a great movie:)

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Charlotte! I’m so glad you like the movie.

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