Rated: R due to sexual situations and language. Reviewed by: Frank Release date: May 12, 1995 Released by: The Samuel Goldwyn Company
Even with fine performances in the four leading parts, the shabby direction and writing destroy what might have been an interesting situation comedy about Cuban refugees and Cuban Americans.
Comedy works only when it is very well written. To combine drama and comedy, as The Perez Family does, requires even greater skill. This film needed extremely solid crafting and it received slipshod attention from critical people behind the cameras.
Juan Roul (Alfred Molina) is release from prison during the 1980 boat lift. He joins Dottie (Marisa Tomei) on the boat while in Miami. His wife Carmela (Anjelica Huston), who has waited 20 years for him to join her in the United States, is beginning an affair with Pirelli (Chazz Palminteri). The boat people, Juan and Dottie, share the same Perez name and so Dottie decided they should pretend to be husband and wife because it will give them a quicker exit from the camp in which they are held. She also picks up a grandfather and a son for the new Perez family. Dottie is a streetwise, sexy, young woman. Juan is a former land owner and part of the upper class. He views her as unpolished and unsophisticated which she is. Her sensuality and common goodness begin over time to work on him and her freedom with me3n, including Juan, turn him from uninterested to falling in love with her.
Carmela over time has become a Cuban American and her daughter, Theresa (Trini Alvarado) is very Americanized. The difference is apparent when the husband and wife meet at a dance. Over the 20 years too much has changed for the relationship to b rekindled.
Tomei is perfect as the loose Dottie. Molina expresses the feelings of a former aristocrat who has been forced to survive in a Castro prison. Huston emits the airs of her past land owner status in Cuba and her new found American heritage. Palminteri is a perfect cop who fall in love with the sophisticated Huston as Molina is falling for the sexy Tomei.
Director Miro Nair had the tools but could not figure out how to use them. Find another family to watch.