Monday, July 4, 2011

Immigration Tango

Sometimes you see the advance reviews on a movie and they are so bad you say to yourself, ‘Those reviews are so bad I don’t know why I would bother to waste my time watching this.’ Unfortunately for some like me who do movie reviews, we get stuck seeing those movies. When this happens and the movie is bad, it doesn’t matter how much fun people think it is reviewing movies. Of course there are times that one finds out things aren’t nearly as bad as those reviews have stated. When you have the opportunity to see it with an audience and the audience claps at the end of the movie, you know it is possible some of those high brow movie reviewers need to get a life. Immigration Tango is such a movie. While it isn’t a classic in cinema, it is a rather entertaining crowd pleaser that had the audience I was watching it with laughing and clapping at the end of the movie.

Immigration Tango has a rather predictable premise, four friends, two couples, one of the couples not US citizens and in threat of deportation. The couples plan a fake marriage to prevent deportation. Elena Dubrovnik is from Russia and her fiancé Carlos is from Guatemala. Elena, played by Elika Portnoy agrees to marry friend, Mike to obtain citizenship. Carlos, played by Carlos Leon, decides to move in with Mike’s girlfriend so they can later pull of the same scheme. What ensues is easy to predict but as bad as this movie is at times, it is innocent and fun enough to make it entertaining.

As is the case with most low budget films there is not the use of popular music in the soundtrack. Much of the music is from indie bands and some of them are quite good. The acting isn’t the best but it isn’t half bad. The character of Elena played by Portnoy has an innocence about her that makes the part work. There is actually some decent acting and funny moments, not of the belly laugh variety, but the cute, this is fun type. Much of that is provided by Carlos Leon. Then for every comedic moment you need a straight actor to play off of. In this, McCaleb Burnett who plays the part of Mike White also does a decent job. I have to also give credit to a decent job of direction provided by David Burton Morris. He has a not so bad script by Martin L. Kelley. It is the cute factor of this movie that keeps it from being half bad and Morris understands that.

While this isn’t a half bad movie, as stated earlier, it is predictable. As the characters spend time with each other, you can predict the things that happen. In a crazy sort of way though, even though it is predictable, it is entertaining. One of the things that add a little to the comic relief is the investigation by Immigration Agent Ravencourt played quite nicely by veteran character actress Avery Sommers.

One of the things that Immigration Tango does quite nicely is it addresses the aspect of marriage. We see two individuals in a marriage of convenience recognize and speak about the real issues related to marriage. There is a since of morality with one couple that prevents them from acting on the desire to see the other nude. In a world where many have little respect for what some call the ‘institution’ of marriage the director plays to this with a measure of respect. I couldn’t help but think of how in America, it seems as if our society says it marries out of love, but I have to question, do we? With the divorce rate as high as it is, we have to ask, where the love is. One of the things I appreciated is that as two of the characters spend more time with each other, there is a mutual respect that develops and there is a time where love happens. We see that love isn’t based on sex, or other areas that many associate it with; it is based on spending time together, learning the other’s interest, liking the other, and then, ultimately the physical relationship can develop.

Immigration Tango is not a great movie, but it isn’t a bad movie. It is entertaining with some laughs and some cute moments. It isn’t what I would consider a DVD worth owning but it is one I would feel comfortable recommending renting. It could be a fun date movie, and while rated R it wasn’t offensive to me. There aren’t many special features on the DVD other than a Filmmaker Commentary, which features the director and cast, and a theatrical trailer. I suspect most seeing this won’t be into the features anyway. It will still provide an entertaining evening for some. As stated earlier, I watched this with a number of friends on the big screen projection unit. It transferred well and the 40 or so friends watching it with me, applauded, laughed and had a good time. I suspect their recommendation will speak for itself.

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