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Rated [R], 100 minutes
Starring Evelina Fernandez, Marta DuBois, Diana Ortelli, Angela Moya; Scott Bakula, Cheech Marin, Robert Beltran
Screenplay by Evelina Fernández, based on her play
Directed by Jose Luis Valenzuela


Sometimes a movie with a minority cast will do big business, even if it's a real stinkeroo, because that minority will turn out to see their fellows on the screen. Such is the case with Luminarias, a histrionic stage play which has forgotten that moviemaking requires actors to turn it down a notch. Even though its stage production came first, Luminarias is a lowbrow Waiting to Exhale . . . and I didn't care for that poorly made flick either. If I wanted to watch incredibly negative Latina characters, I'd be popping a beer in front of MadTV. If I wanted to take it on the chin for being in the majority according to skin tone, then Luminarias would sure teach me a thing or two. This film is so focussed on, what I'm guessing to be, the rage of the Latina author that anyone outside with non-Hispanic origins is dissed. And so, for that matter, are non-Mexican Hispanics.

The film begins at the anniversary party of Andrea (Evelina Fernandez) and Joe (Robert Beltran of Star Trek:Voyager) at which Joe is caught swapping tongues with the blonde gringa hottie he's been doing on the side. Apparently he's done this many times before and Andrea boots him out of the house. Usually Joe comes back all respectful and apologetic. This time he wants a divorce.

So we've got four single Latinas who hang out at a restaurant called Luminarias, doing shots and and talking about looking for love. Besides Andrea, a divorce lawyer, there is Sofia (Marta Du Bois), a therapist, who likes white guys and is in such denial of her heritage that she barely speaks the language; Irene (Diana Ortelli) the clothing designer who likes her studs young and Latin (but has given up sex for Lent); and Lilly (Angela Moya), a visual artist, usually ends up with men who are most likely undocumented, unemployed and married.

Sofia, hoping to get her friend a taste of something exotic, fixes up Andrea on a surprise blind date with Jewish lawyer Joseph Levinson (Scott Bakula) -- who, unknown to Sofia, is handling the opposite side of a divorce case Andrea is working on. Andrea, as noted, doesn't like white guys, but a couple of shots of tequila, and the sight of her ex and his blonde, take care of that. Joseph finds himself introduced to Andrea's family, including cousin Jesus (Cheech Marin) and a pair of horny aunts. They're more excited about having a gringo in the family than Andrea seems to be.

It must be noted that only Bakula, Marin and Liz Torres (in a very minor role) know how to play to the camera. Everyone else is overacting so badly that many of the smaller stories -- the effect of the divorce on Andrea's son; Lilly facing the kind of discrimination the girls discuss and/or preach, because she's fallen in love with a Korean -- are overshadowed by weaker, lowbrow gags -- Irene's homosexual transvestite brother, for one. Regardless, every story turns sloppy sentimental as the play forces one happy ending on top of another.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Luminarias, he would have paid...


Nothing shines about this thing.

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