At the Movies: Steamy Mexican Sex, Natalie Portman and Real Life

On the surface, the movie Y Tu Mama Tambien is about sex and the movie Star Wars: Attack of the Clones isn’t.

After all, there are, by my count, 2,143 words in the Sex/Nudity section of the review of the former, and 91 words on Sex/Nudity for the later.

In Star Wars sex and nudity gets about as wild as:

Later, they playfully roll around on the ground (over and over) until she’s eventually straddling him (but nothing else happens).
while in Y Tu Mama Tambien it’s more along the lines of:
From a distance, we see Julio and Tenoch lying on separate diving boards above a pool masturbating (we see their hands rhymically moving at their crotches as they mention various things and women to fantasize about). We then see them react to climaxing (we don’t see the actual orgasms, but do see some seminal fluid land in the pool).

Star Wars is rated PG. Y Tu Mama Tambien isn’t rated at all.

And so conventional wisdom would say that Star Wars is a good family movie and Y Tu Mama Tambien, well, isn’t.

But let’s scratch below this surface.

There are two plot lines in this most recent episode of the Star Wars trilogy. First, a military — political drama that involves a lot of robots and two groups called The Republic and The Federation. Second involves getting Darth Vader and Natalie Portman to sleep together so that they can produce Luke Skywalker for the fourth movie in the trilogy.

As near as I can tell, the “love” between these two exists on some mystical plane that we’re never really filled in on the details of. They knew each other as children. He’s been thinking of her every day for 10 years. She bares her midriff a lot. He stares into her eyes a lot. They steal a kiss they then regret. They “playfully roll around on the ground (over and over)”.

In other words they have a fantasy relationship that bears little or no similarity to how actual relationships start and develop. They are two icons that bump and merge in the stars. And then they get married beside a lake.

In Y Tu Mama Tambien there is no love to speak of. There are two lifelong friends and a woman, the cousin of one, who take a road trip to the seashore and have assorted varieties of spontaneous and consensual sex along the way. The friends argue. The sex is clumsy and difficult. There’s beer. And pot. And more beer. And a beautiful secluded beach. And a family of escaped pigs. And then it’s over.

In other words, in spirit if not in detail, it’s a lot like the everyday relationships going on all around us. It’s about how people meet and how sex actually happens and why people freak out about it and how people can be friends and then not be friends.

So which is the family movie? The one that perpetuates dreamy impossible science fiction romance, or the one that doesn’t? I’m not sure I know the answer because, at 19 months, wee Oliver doesn’t go to the movies yet. But I’ve a hunch that in the end its the steamy Mexican teen sex that might provide a better education in the ways of the world.


Oliver's picture
Oliver on June 17, 2002 - 21:24 Permalink

It was interesting to me to read your observation that Mama was realistic in the conceptual untidiness of the relationships between the characters. When I went to it I knew that realism was what the critics thought the movie had going for it, and it was a reason that I went; but I got so engaged by the characters that I was disappointed when it didn’t give me a Hollywood ending that resolved everything nicely. So I left thinking this was a movie without any insights into human beings and which simply engaged us with naturalistic sexual dynamics and commaraderie. You’ve made me recognize that there’s some insight to that non-pat ending. Still, when it comes to mainstream movies (which seemingly can’t possibly reflect the simple intent of one artist nowadays, being collectively written, produced and edited and motivated so much by money) I think our interpretation of the finished product is rarely the only pertinent explanation of how and why the product is what it is.

Derek Martin's picture
Derek Martin on June 19, 2002 - 04:43 Permalink

At City Cinema August 12 — 18. And the unrated rating is just in the States — which has some major differences to our ratings system and how it applies to theatres, video stores and advertising (Roger Ebert talks about this a lot) — in Ontario it’s restricted with a sexual content warning. Not yet rated in the Maritimes.

daisey's picture
daisey on March 30, 2003 - 18:58 Permalink

wow this is good you should show me more

nigel's picture
nigel on May 31, 2005 - 13:37 Permalink

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