Lowriders is likable, but in the pursuit of having emotional depth, it drowns in its own melodrama.
Characters & Storyline
After 8 years in prison for grand theft auto, Francisco, aka Ghost (Theo Rossi) is out and is looking to get right back to what he does best, fixing and making cars. Specifically lowriders. However, he has a bone to pick with his father, his only living parent, Miguel (Demián Bichir). Someone who didn’t visit him in prison nor even let his little brother Danny (Gabriel Chavarria) or half-sister Isabel (Montse Hernandez) get to keep in contact.
So, now that he is out, he wants to take what his father love’s the most, the grand prize at a local lowrider exhibit. For, with that, he proves he doesn’t need his dad to be great and that he is better than him. That way, the only thing Miguel will have to be ashamed about is his past alcohol addiction and how he used to beat on Francisco.
It Tries To Bring Some Depth To The Movie
Between Miguel’s alcoholism, Danny getting into trouble with his street art, and Francisco having serious issues with his father, there is some attempt at making this movie about more than cars. Also, the movie dips its toe into lowriding culture and what it means to Mexican Americans and how, for many a year, this part of their culture was subjugated to oppression by local law enforcement. Yet, because it means so much to them, it was done incognito when possible and kept alive.
Many of the Relationships That Danny Has Feel Weak or Underdeveloped
One glaring issue for me was that Claudia (Yvette Monreal), while clearly crushing on Danny, almost seems like she played a bigger part in the movie but was largely cut out. Then with Chuy (Tony Revolori), again there is this weird feeling that the character should mean more to the film, if not just Danny. However, because they wanted a stronger focus on Francisco and his issues with Miguel, his part was oddly modified. Oddly because, at a certain point, Chuy becomes part of Francisco’s car crew as Danny and Miguel have a fallen out. But, as for the exact reasons why? Well, that is hard to say.
Mostly because, development is non-existent when it comes to anyone but the three men who lead the production. Everyone else is just accessories, pawns to play into their issues. Miguel’s new wife and daughter are there to setup issues with Francisco, Chuy and Claudia are there to show Daniel has friends, and even this white girl he dates for a bit named Lorelai (Melissa Benoist) just seems to be there to present his street art as something beyond just graffiti. These people never evolve into something autonomous. They are there solely to support whichever lead they are attached to.
It’s Boring Enough To Want To Check Your Watch or Phone
After an hour, there will be a desire to see when is this going to be over. For while you have to love the fact there isn’t urban violence in this film, at the same time there isn’t racing, or quality acting or dialog, so you are left wondering what the hook is? Watching this novella of story dealing with a son hurt his dad never visited him in jail? So he decides to get revenge by taking what he wants and loves most? Who are they trying to sell that story to? Perhaps the selling point is the false advertisement of this alternative Latinx street artist and his eccentric group of friends? Sorry if you was hoping for that since that isn’t here.
All we get is a well-developed love for cars and with the world just seeing The Fate of the Furious, to go from that to cars either slowly cruising or just bouncing, it makes for the type of experience that, if theater chairs were more comfortable, you may be tempted to nap.
Overall: Mixed (Divisive)
Lowriders is the type of film you are likely to forget you saw. It holds not a single thing which is noteworthy and barely even seems like a niche film. If anything, it tries to do too many things at once and barely puts an effort into any topic it brings up.
Hence the Mixed (Divisive) label. For while there is a storyline dealing with a father and son’s issues, stemming from abuse and alcoholism, a storyline dealing with interracial romance and the issues which can come from that, as well as low rider culture, none of it is done to the level which makes this film notable. It seems vetted enough to make a coherent plot but not one which could entertain whoever was the intended audience.