Tuesday, June 6, 2017

3 Idiotas [2017]

MPAA (PG-13)  Fr. Dennis (2 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing

3 Idiotas [2017] (directed by Carlos Bolado, adaptation by Carlos Abascal along with Carlos Bolado, Cory Brusseau and Martha Higareda) is a cheerful and often quite excellent / insightful Mexican adaptation of a phenomenally successful Indian college/coming-of-age movie 3 Idiots [2009].

Interestingly enough, I've reviewed two of director Carlos Bolado's previous films Tlatelolco, Verano de 68 [2013] and The Forgotten (orig. Olvidados) [2014], both far more serious films than the current one, clearly a comedy.  Yet, since the director here chose to take-on the making an adaptation of a film that deservingly carries significant currency in contemporary World Cinema, it indicates that Bolado continues to have his sights pointed, rightly, high.

Note here as well that I was led to 3 Idiots [2009] by Readers here when I began my (first) Indian Film Tour last year and loved it and have recommended it to ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE since as a remarkably insightful film with regards to India (and young adult Indians) today.

So how did current director / script-writers do in adapting this film about contemporary Indian engineering students to engineering students in (Monterrey) Mexico today?

Well essentially the same characters are presented in the Mexican adaptation as in the Indian original, with the original film's insight -- that not everybody who makes it to a prestigious Engineering school should really be there -- left intact as well.  But there were a number of changes, some brilliant, and at least one that I could have done without (an unfortunate addition of "potty humor" with regards to one of the characters that served little purpose other than diminishing the final product).

Still, the Mexican adaptation has its moments of brilliance as well, notably in its portrayal of one of the "idiots" in the film, Felipe (played by Cristian Vazquez).  Felipe is portrayed as coming from a very poor family from the Mexican countryside.  In the Indian original, Felipe's character came from a "streets of Calcutta poor family," where each time he came home, his mother would always remind him THAT THE FORTUNES OF THE ENTIRE FAMILY HINGED ON HIS SUCCESS IN SCHOOL, and motivated by such crushing guilt, he tried his best, but ... In contrast, in the Mexican adaptation, while Felipe's family was also portrayed as quite poor, and he certainly did not want to disappoint them, the family was portrayed as being far happier and just PROUD AS CAN BE to have "a son of their own" having "made it all the way to a Monterrey Engineering school."  In both cases, Felipe's character was really not cut out to be an engineering student, but I found the Mexican adaptation's portrayal of his family quite insightful: the Mexican family was just happy to see "one of their own" already "kinda succeed" while the Indian original's family really, really put pressure on him to continue (though they were also more desperate than the Mexican family) even when it was becoming clear that he was "over his head" at the Engineering school.

The other characters, Beto here (played by German Vadlez) who was studying Engineering only to please his parents, Isidro here (played by Vadhir Derbez) who was studying Engineering only because he expected to make a lot of money afterwards, and Pancho here (played by Alfonso Dosal) who was the actual engineering prodigy who all his life loved tinking with things to come to understand how / why they work and how to make them work better, are taken straight out of Indian original, as is the stern Engineering dean (played here by Enrique Singer) who had his reasons (interestingly different if  poignant in the Mexican adaptation from that of the Indian original) for being so stern, and the Dean's daughter Mariana here (played by Martha Higareda) who becomes something of a love interest in both Indian and Mexican versions of the story.

All in all, I found the Mexican version of the story to work quite well.  I just do wish that the film had toned down or even completely eliminated the unfortunate "potty humor" surrounding Isidro's character.  It was quite unnecessary and seriously diminished the film.  Still putting aside that drawback, the adaptation was really quite fun.

Readers if you do see the film, stay through its closing credits, because the film ends with a lovely, and once again cheerful / fun Mexican homage to a Bollywood ending ;-)

So overall a pretty good job!

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