More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 16.07%
Average: 3.57%
Pretty Bad: 3.57%
Total Crap: 26.79%

1 review, 50 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Ghosting Gloria by Jay Seaver

Hold Me Back by Jay Seaver

Behemoth by Rob Gonsalves

Pig (2021) by Rob Gonsalves

Val by Rob Gonsalves

Little Vampire (2020) by Rob Gonsalves

Kate by Rob Gonsalves

Language Lessons by Jay Seaver

Small Engine Repair by Jay Seaver

Night House, The by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Zoot Suit
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Greg Muskewitz

"Never has the strength to stand on its own legs."
1 stars

Adapted from his own play by the same name, Luis Valdez also directs "Zoot Suit," a semi-factual account where several boys were sent to San Quentin for a murder they did not commit at Sleepy Lagoon in 1942.

The characters were weak and hollow, the acting was way out of proportion and over-the-top, rigid and phony, and the direction was pretentious and contrived. The agit prop here in favor of the wronged Chicanos is a heterogeneous quilt of a filmed "production" of a play (in tact with scenes of the audience watching on; revolving sets), a musical, and a straightforward narrative, but the only thing it manages to prove is its instability and unsuccess of any of the set-forth goals. Valdez goes wrong by trying to use only the best of each of those compartments, but the unbalance tears the movie from all corners. It creates an awkward viewing, an annoying "style" and plays into the stereotypes instead of against them. (I have never heard pachuco so many times in 103-minutes, as well as plenty of other "barrio-ridden" colloquialisms like vato, símon, chalé, and so many more. The performances on all accounts are pretty awful, the music is dull (plain and boring jazz and swing), and the direction is very uninspired and cloaked. The trickiness of sudden time pauses and the interaction with the "alter ego" (Edward James Olmos) is a bad theatrical gimmick, and in the one scene where the alter ego can actually be seen, it only suggests that it was Hank (Daniel Valdez, Luis' brother) who committed the murder, which is later on contradicted by the suggestion that it was Hank's brother. In the end, it turns out to be a torrid convolution of unanswered suppositions. Olmos gives one of his worst performances ever, stiffly speaking the empty dialogue. Over-done, over-dressed. Additionally, for more of the same unbuyable type of performance, it would have helped the Daniel Valdez would have looked Chicano rather than Asian/Pacific Islander-ish.

Final Verdict: D-.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 05/05/01 08:35:22
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

8/28/14 Jack Berrick I saw it in the Army in Bavaria in 1983-dreadful film--and I love film and musicals 1 stars
8/08/11 Jack Neworth I have no idea what movie this moron Greg Muskewitz saw. Powerful, inspired and profound. 5 stars
12/02/10 Jesus Chavez Esta pelicula ablo a mi espiritu. Viva El Pachuco! 5 stars
11/02/10 Alma It was a great film for aii you who did not like it you just dont know what real film art i 5 stars
11/30/07 kelsie The play was okay! It appropriately gets it's point across about the 1940's. 4 stars
4/14/07 lydia I like the clothes and the drama 5 stars
12/07/06 Zoey Ramirez windeful movie 5 stars
12/04/06 Dalia this movie is great and to those who didn't enjoy it, you guys just don't know. 5 stars
11/27/06 Sylviadoranuel This movie was terrible, and I hate it. Stupid play, Valdez sucks at directing movies. 1 stars
9/24/06 chulis This movie was great n f*^& alll the haters>it was great once more 5 stars
9/14/06 Frances I liked it. Great movie with great use of music and dance. 5 stars
7/15/06 Lori Ann I thought this film is a true depiction of the injustices faced by Latinos past and present 5 stars
6/28/06 Natalie Very good! Based on the play which is also amazing! 5 stars
5/18/06 Brooklynn Solomon Brings a lot of relevant information out in a dramatic way. 4 stars
7/24/04 Leslie i thought it was great! 5 stars
6/13/04 Kevin Clark Not realism, this stage adaptation renders survival in the face of injstice. 4 stars
6/11/04 Sandra Mireles a good Show!!! 4 stars
3/29/04 big pappi70 this movie was good, it just depends if you understand your culture or not, from the razza 5 stars
3/29/04 big pappi70 this movie was good, it just depends if you understand your culture or not, from the razza 5 stars
2/12/04 Cristina Dominguez I LOVED IT!! It makes you think, Luis Valdez is a master!! 5 stars
2/06/04 Yosh C This movie rocked ass. i hate whitey even more now! 5 stars
11/17/03 Jessica Ahumada I think it is a very good movie and great acting by Edward James Olmos 4 stars
11/14/03 Manolia Fan gay horriable andgay all over again 1 stars
11/08/03 Misty People Just don't Get it! 4 stars
7/25/03 watever very confusing story 1 stars
5/30/03 E. Johnson it sucked 1 stars
5/08/03 -J- man.. this movie sucked, The pachuco guy fucked over all those kids 1 stars
5/07/03 Raymond Urquidez It's is true about what they say in the movie. It was an excellent play! 5 stars
3/06/03 Sean R Powerful! Recommend investigation into Sleepy Lagoon case history prior to viewing. 5 stars
12/12/02 Patrick Gaebler my nick name is "Pachuco" 3 stars
12/05/02 Daniel Jacobo break away from classic hollywood film structure 5 stars
11/13/02 amber n great 5 stars
10/15/02 Andrew Powerful. Those who dislike it do not understand the surrounding history 5 stars
9/16/02 Amy confusing conclusion(s) and unbelievable characters 2 stars
7/15/02 nelson An underrated gem 5 stars
6/25/02 sandra martinez This film is a great example of what Mexican-Americans had to deal with during the 40's. to 5 stars
6/25/02 Sam Lee one of the best films ever seen in my life...but the acting sucks 4 stars
5/22/02 Amir I hate musicals, but... people who don't understand the style need to shut up! 5 stars
4/30/02 Karri wonderful examples and symbolisim of the racisim present during the 1940's. 5 stars
3/21/02 Damian Olmos gives a stylish performance as Henry Reyna's conscience. 5 stars
3/10/02 Pamela Ocampo I think that it is worth to watch because of the old chicano times 4 stars
2/23/02 cindy it sucks 1 stars
12/07/01 Bethany D seemed Greg missed the point of the movie-it's supposed to be contrived 5 stars
12/01/01 Manuel It was an awesome movie 5 stars
11/25/01 Cynthia Ortega It's a boring musical!!!!! 1 stars
11/13/01 Stefani Sullivan One of, or maybe the. worst movie I have ever seen. 1 stars
11/01/01 Sandy Great Musical 4 stars
10/01/01 Salvador That movie was the best. Screw you white people that hated it!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/11/01 Myriam It was pretty weird! I was glad when the 103 minutes were over and i could finally go home! 2 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  02-Oct-1981 (R)
  DVD: 27-May-2003



Directed by
  Luis Valdez

Written by
  Luis Valdez

  Daniel Valdez
  Edward James Olmos
  Tyne Daly
  Charles Aidman
  John Anderson
  Abel Franco

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast