Spare Parts – 3 out of 5
With a title like Spare Parts, it would be easy to assume that this film is about a loveable little robot that falls apart a lot and is in constant need of repair. It’s a pain in the tush but it’s such a delightful little scamp that you don’t mind it and you watch as it teaches the world about friendship and generosity. In reality, the movie is none of this but I think I have a script to write and sell to Disney. This movie may not be what I described but a robot is still a factor in this feature that was based on a true story.
|Hmmm, is this some McDonald's product placement?|
|More McDonald's?!? Did they produce this film?|
|"Rock You Like a Hurricane" felt like it should have |
played while they entered the competition.
In between jobs, Fredi Cameron (George Lopez) is looking for work and takes a job as a substitute science teacher. His heart isn’t completely in the duty because of how, by definition, the job is temporary but he finds himself a part of a student’s engineering club. One eager student; Oscar Vazquez (Carlos PenaVega), comes to the club with big dreams of entering an underwater robotics competition. Reluctantly, Cameron agrees to the idea but they need some more people. They enlist the help of a brilliant student named Cristian Arcega (David Del Rio), a student with a troubled home named Lorenzo Santillan (José Julián) and one final student; Luis Aranda (Oscar Gutierrez), the muscle of the group and the man to carry the robot in and out of the pool. Everything seems alright except the fact they have no money to create what the more illustrious schools can manufacture and are forced to put their creative minds to the test and make something on a small budget and something that can compete with the big dogs at the competition.
|The robot immediately was piloted through urine that was mixed in the pool water|
and it suddenly had a desire to kill all humans on the planet.
Spare Parts is your pretty typical, based on a true event affair. I know that sounds like I’m downplaying it but, I assure you, I’m not. Who doesn’t love the underdog stories? The tales where the people who are told by society they can’t do something but they rise up and accomplish it anyway? Actually, I don’t want to meet the people who don’t like those stories. I say this film is typical because, going into it, you already know how it is going to unfold and how the tale ends—especially since it’s based on something that actually happened so the outcome is documented for all history. Even with the formulaic approach these movies take, they still are charming and inspirational. Spare Parts has this but it is a clunky road that it takes to get there.
|And after they built the robot, they taught it how to love.|
One thing this story doesn’t handle well is the character development so getting to know the kids, Cameron and the other faculty members feels very wonky. This results in the moments that don’t involve the kids struggling to get the robot to work feel like it is putting the brakes on the momentum the story is having. The odd thing about this is their backstories are interesting and help humanize the characters greatly. The problem that occurs is the plot doesn’t really have a flow to it where these development moments feel like they are sprung up naturally and in concert with the work around the competition. This issue does start to resolve itself as the film progresses but it doesn’t change that the story does feel a tad awkward for the first and second act.
|And one of them immediately "Leroy Jenkins-ed" their whole operation.|
|The sequel setup where the robot turned towards Fredi|
while it was in the pool and said, "What are you doing
Fredi?" felt a little ominous.
This wobbly start to the film does start to right itself out but the real highlight of the film is the cast. Everyone from George Lopez to Jamie Lee Curtis as the school’s principal to Marisa Tomei as a fellow teacher to Julián, Del Rio, Gutierrez and PenaVega as the students are doing a tremendous job. The actors playing the students are really stealing the show because they capture that drive and the daily hardships they go through when not in school...and, because of this, it was impossible to not cry when they achieved their victory at the competition (no, that’s not a spoiler because, like I said, you know it is coming from the moment the film starts…and their win is a matter of public record).
|"Let me tell you all about the yogurt that helps you with your bowel movements..."|
Spare Parts has some clumsiness to it but it doesn’t completely defeat its heart and charm. The cast is great and there’s some real chemistry between everyone so it was easy to cheer for them as they competed at the end. The film struggles to make the development flow but does succeed as it blends its drama, heart and humor. Overall, it's a great tale and a fun watch.