I know even less about reviewing movies than I do about reviewing books--casi nada--but now that Felix the Cat Ramos is out of town, I thought I'd play at critiquing one.
Like most old Chicanos, my wife and I don't see the newest flicks until they get to the $3-theater; but at least they're new to us, no matter how much our kids make fun of our ways. Anyway, we had to go to the 4:00 showing since King Kong is over 3 hours long and if we'd gone at 7:00, I'd have watched the last half by myself, trying to hear the dialogue over somebody's snoring.
It was fokkin' great, eses! It's the best Chicano flick done by a gringo I've ever seen.
It starts out during the Depression in the U.S., so the opening scenes about gringo poverty and destitution look a lot like most U.S. cities today. Soup-lines, unemployment, evictions: the real post Enron/George Bush America.
The best I could understand the plot, this pollero producer-type hires a European pollero--almost everybody on the boat is 3rd World--to go back to Mexico to capture something never heard of in the U.S., the black, super giant gorilla-worker King Kong. They cross the Rio Grande, which is depicted as an ocean, as wide as some English-only people really wish it was.
It's easy to imagine why they want this Mexican gorilla. He could wash all the dishes in NY in 5 minutes and could construct two houses at a time, one with each hand. That way he'd replace a whole bunch of illegal, regular-sized mexicanos.
They find Kong behind the kind of futuristic wall George Dubbya wants to build on the border, in a typical Central American jungle, living like a butt-naked animal in places with dirt floors, giant cucarachas, gigantic mosquitoes that look like vampire bats--the sort of stereotype some gringos have about Latino homelands.
The natives who live just on this side of the frontera wall, the ones who linger at the border, are a riot: they are so black, they make negroes look like they could use a tan! Their eyes are all red (probably from all the cocaine they smuggle in), they're half naked, they got dread-locks and things hanging from their bodies, you can barely make out that they're human, so they're the immigrant stereotype gringos have always imagined. And you can't even understand their Spanish!
They take all kinds of automatic weapons, one thing we still make here that sometimes work, and lure the poor gorilla with a gringa blonde, so it's believable, because you know how easily machos fall for those.
King Kong and the blonde hit it off, just as "deeply" as American college coeds hit it off with their Cancun snorkeling instructor during summer break. He takes her to his place, but all the X-rated scenes were deleted, I guess for the sake of those coeds' parents. Eventually, her gringo boyfriend shows up, she comes to her senses, and they escape to the boat. Pobre pendejo Kong chases them, of course, and gets caught by the polleros who take him back across the Rio Bravo Ocean.
Now we're at the big NY theater where all these rich people, restaurant and construction company owners, are all decked out waiting for the producer to show off this bracero gorilla who's gonna save them from having to hire all those little mexicano workers.
When the curtain rises, Kong is all pedo from another American product that works, more or less--drugs. They got him chained to these huge posts, just like an old negro slave auction. Everybody can hardly wait for the bidding to begin.
When they put another blonde in front of him, Kong can't tell one blonde from another and thinks it's that coed from his Cancun; he wakes up and realizes that every Latino's dream about crossing the border is a sham. So, he's pissed.
He goes tearing through NY, just like the anti-immigrant fanatics imagine illegals are doing to this country. Kong keeps picking up blondes and throwing them away when he figures out they don't in fact all look alike. She finally shows up, regretting what her weekend in that Cancun did to the poor Latino, and they both head to the Empire State Bldg.
Now the movie gets contemporary. Think: Twin Towers, airplanes, disaster. Except, in this version, the military plays a role and helps save the gringos of NY, although it's really the blonde who does that when she stands on top and gets the planes to stop attacking the Tower. Ironic, qué no?
In the end, the blonde and her boyfriend are safe in their no-jobs/no-pensions America, but they don't care because they have each other. The producer gets ruined because now he's got to pay for replacing the theater and a whole bunch of cars, subway trains, and blondes. The rich restaurant and construction company owners are going to have to make do hiring a lot of regular immigrants.
But not all the movie is negative. The blonde started out as an aspiring artist, an actress no less, and in the end she refuses to have anything with auctioning off Kong, goes back to true theater, and regrets her part in screwing up Kong's life. Her boyfriend is a playwright, and he sticks to his art and cuts himself out of selling Kong, too.
So maybe the moral to the movie is that in the economic and foreign policy disasters of today's America, stay faithful to your art and you will survive. Don't try to make millions like the producer or rely on a miracle King Kong to save your business: you're gonna have to make do with all those little mexicanos.
I recommend you see this great Chicano flick. Just be careful when you're eating that burrito you snuck in because even the owners of the $3 theaters won't let you stay to watch the next one if they catch you.
Rudy Ch. Garcia