Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (2023) – Review and Summary

Movie Poster - Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (2023)

In a woodburning oven type of romance featuring usual romance and LGBT+ tropes, you get “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.”


General Information

Director(s) Aitch Alberto
Screenplay By Aitch Alberto
Based On The Novel By Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Date Released (In Theaters) September 8, 2023
Genre(s) Comedy

Drama

Romance

Young Adult

LGBT+

Film Length 1 Hour 38 Minutes
Content Rating Rated PG-13
Noted Characters and Cast
Aristotle Max Pelayo
Dante Reese Gonzales

Content Rating Explanation

“Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” contains:

  • Dialog: Cursing
  • Violence: Fighting, blood, bruising and notable wounds
  • Sexual Content: None
  • Miscellaneous: Underaged drinking and depiction of smoking

Film Summary

This content contains pertinent spoilers. Also, images and text in this post may contain affiliate links. If a purchase is made from those sites, we may earn money or products from the company.

It’s the late 80s, and, for the most part, Aristotle, often called Ari, sticks to himself. Yes, some girls try to chat him up, but he rebuffs many and considers himself friendless. Enter Dante, whom Aristotle meets at the pool, and after a swimming lesson and bonding over the oddness of their names and being Mexican, they become friends.

Unfortunately, Dante’s family is pulled to Chicago due to his father’s job during the school year, but letters are exchanged as both explore and discover who they are. This makes them reuniting the following summer a reintroduction that leads to some friction as Dante shares his biggest discovery and questions if maybe Aristotle may make the same discovery soon.

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Aristotle

Aristotle (Max Pelayo) with his dog Legs
“Aristotle (Max Pelayo) with his dog Legs,” Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, directed by Aitch Alberto, 2023, (Blue Fox Entertainment)

The loner type, Aristotle doesn’t do much with his life. He stares at his wall, sleeps, goes to the pool, and later works, but with no friends until he meets Dante; he is just on autopilot.

Dante

Dante Reese Gonzals Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe 2023 scaled
Aristotle & Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe
Photos by Darren Michaels, SMPSP for No Light Pollution © 2021.
All rights reserved.

Vibrant and a dash flamboyant, Dante may not have to make his presence known, but when you enter his world, it becomes clear that he has embraced all he is and what influence his parents have on him. Though, he sometimes questions how much of a Mexican he is.

Review

Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Highlights

The Chemistry & Foundation

Films like “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” live or die based on the chemistry of the leads, and there is no denying what is presented here. Would I say that the two make you swoon, envious of their connection, or anything on a dramatic level? No. However, the friendship we see there, the connection over culture, the ingrained initiative in their relationship, and how their families accept and look out for one another can’t be downplayed.

The foundation is wonderful, and the chemistry? It has a natural build you can come to appreciate. It isn’t hot off the bat but warms up, like a woodburning fireplace, so as you come to the final moments before the credits, it feels like you went on a sometimes uncertain journey rather than a cut-and-paste of what you’ve seen a million times before.

Well, for the most part.

A Question Of Culture

Being Mexican isn’t at the forefront, but it isn’t on the backburner either when it comes to “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.” Both boys were raised by Mexicans, but it is clear that Aristotle got it more culturally through learning Spanish, the food, how work ethic is presented, and in all the ways that would affirm, as he gets older, that he is a Mexican young man.

On the other hand, Dante knows he is Mexican through lineage, but you can see and hear him feel like he is more American than Mexican. But, similar to “Joy Ride,” there is a sense that, through Aristotle, he gets what perhaps his parents don’t or can’t give him in terms of culture. Thus presenting another thing to bond over and share with his best friend. Aristotle gives him more than time and effort, but also a sense of home and what was once foreign, even though it is part of him, now seeming like something he belongs to.

On The Fence

Romance Genre Tropes Mixed In With LGBT+ Tropes

Diversity allows for changes to tropes, as we see being Mexican or White passing has an influence. However, as shown by films like “Twisted Marriage Therapist,” as much as many a writer may want to stray from tropes and well-trodden roads, somehow they always end up on them, often for worse than better.

In the case of “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe,” we get that dramatic moment that tears our leads apart and the grand gesture that brings them back together. You know the moment if you have ever seen a romance genre film. There is a miscommunication. Something unexpected happens as feelings get flared up, and one half does something to hurt the other.

But, when it comes to “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe,” it takes things further by adding in LGBT+ tropes of which, with the film being set in the late 80s, as the AIDS epidemic comes to rise, let me reassure you neither character gets the virus. However, there is still the trauma of coming out back then, especially in El Paso, Texas, and all the tropes many modern LGBT+ films and shows are trying to move away from – especially those featuring young people.

Who Is This For?

Those who like simple romances that are slow and steady but require people to come to realizations of who they are, what they like, and being comfortable with that in the society they exist in and community they are part of.

Recommendations

If you like this movie, we recommend:

  1. The Thing About Harry
  2. Port Authority
  3. Mutt

Check out our movies page for our latest movie reviews and recommendations.

FAQs

Answers to some questions you may have regarding this movie:

The Reason The Movie Is Named “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe”

Because one of the ways Aristotle and Dante bond is by going places where there isn’t light pollution and looking up at the stars. There they can see the universe together and it is also, in these types of moments, they share the secret they have been keeping from the world.

Does “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” Setup A Sequel or Prequel?

No

Does “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” Have A Mid-Credit or End Credit Scene?

No


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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (2023) – Overview

Summary

While it is appreciated what “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” does differently as it presents two Mexican boys talking and dealing with culture, family, and self-identity, some of the missteps and generic conflicts do snatch it from where it sometimes soars, right back down to Earth.

Overall
80%
80%
  • The Chemistry & Foundation - 83%
    83%
  • A Question Of Culture - 82.5%
    83%
  • Romance Genre Tropes Mixed In With LGBT+ Tropes - 75%
    75%
Sending
User Review
0 (0 votes)

Highlight(s)

  • The Chemistry & Foundation
  • A Question Of Culture

Disputable

  • Romance Genre Tropes Mixed In With LGBT+ Tropes

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