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Overall Rating
4.6

Awesome68%
Worth A Look: 24%
Average: 8%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

5 reviews, 45 user ratings


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Raising Victor Vargas
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by Chris Parry

"You keep waiting for it to not be awesome... and it keeps being awesome."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2003 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Take the best parts of Kids, mix them in with a little Y Tu Mama Tambien and what you’ve got is a totally enjoyable cinematic experience - Raising Victor Vargas. Victor (Victor Rasuk) is a Latino kid who fancies himself as a bit of a lothario around the ghetto. The problem is that he’s been sneaking away to give ‘Fat Donna’ in the apartment upstairs a bit of the old meat flute, and once his little sister finds out and spreads the word, Victor quickly becomes the neighborhood running joke. So what do you do when people start calling you ‘the dude that’s fucking Fat Donna’? You go out and find yourself a red-hot girlfriend that’ll shut them all up, that’s what.

Enter Juicy Judy Rodriguez (Judy Marte), the hottest gal in the hood. When Victor and his buddy move in to mack on Judy and her pal at the neighborhood swimming pool, they’re initially shot down in flames - but Victor doesn’t give up on a girl without a fight. He tracks down Judy’s brother Carlos and convinces him to give Victor a proper introduction... on the agreement that Victor will return the favor for Carlos with his little sister.

Meanwhile, Victor’s little brother has taken to whacking off in the bathroom five times a day. It’s about this time that Victor’s Dominican Republic-born grandmother starts to freak out on everyone.

Essentially a story about an inner city boy struggling to figure out what manhood is truly about, Raising Victor Vargas is top to bottom phenomenal. The cast cannot be faulted, despite being relative rookies at the acting game. They’re all far from big name status… in fact they’re far from little name status, but they’ll surely be on their way up once a wider audience sees this film. Rasuk in particular deserves special mention and it’s his performance that keeps this ship on course throughout. The kid has looks, he has talent, he has a little comedic timing, but most of all he’s not playing a character that he has to make up, he’s playing an average teenage Joe.

Credit writer/director Peter Sollett for some of that. When Sollett blew audiences away with his Jury Prize winning short Five Feet High and Rising at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival, many wondered if he could pull it off over feature length. Well, he’s done that and then some. In a smart move, he merely built on the theme of the short, brought most of the cast back and instilled a lot of the same sensibility to this very well made feature film. So many filmmakers will do fine with a limited budget and then, when given more resources, bite off more than they can chew, but Sollett has kept his head on straight and created a work that quite honestly deserves to be seen by a wide audience.

Raising Victor Vargas boasts the reality of Kids (without the festering sense of ick) as well as the sexuality and sensuality of Y Tu Mama Tambien (while keeping the setting local), a combination that is bound to do some business if given the right support. It has the feel of a foreign film, which is all the more odd being as it’s very much American – in fact it’s been called by certain reporters, “the greatest American film of the last year.” Though that might be stretching things, I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s not far off. Props.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6875&reviewer=1
originally posted: 01/18/03 21:00:35
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2003 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/07/08 Mariel this movie was great, it really shows how Victor, myself, and other latinas really grew up. 5 stars
10/29/06 dave What movies should be all about 5 stars
6/05/06 j ran i just love this movie, its simple but yet it makes you feel like you were there. i just lu 5 stars
10/22/05 Phil M. Aficionado I'm going to "awesome" because the spirit and acting and "realism" are superior. Marte=++++ 5 stars
6/02/05 danielle i luubbbb this movie and victor! 5 stars
3/20/05 Tay Very realistic portrayal of the issues and of being a teenager in the innercity 4 stars
11/15/04 Shana Put it Back on T.V. B\C. I would watch it over & over again! 5 stars
9/28/04 Dieyi01 great movie...loved to see new faces in film 5 stars
9/26/04 Tor Honolulu More like a docu than anything; I've never seen such natural acting by kids that age 5 stars
7/13/04 Ginelle Greene great movie &it helps that Victor's really HOTTT 5 stars
4/28/04 Gabriella Sanchez Victor's hot -Judy's pretty-Good combination -GREAT MOVIE 5 stars
4/17/04 LoZzA its a great movie with real life situations.. loveeee victor.. he is a total spunk!!! 5 stars
4/07/04 Belinda Melonie Diaz did not play the pre-teen half sister. She was Judy's best friend. 4 stars
3/14/04 y2mckay Much more depth in this film than the video box plot synopsis can impart. 4 stars
12/31/03 Peter I loved every character in the film. They had a natural relationship with each other . 5 stars
10/09/03 aye one of the best films of 2003 so far 5 stars
9/22/03 melanie victor soOo banggin.. if he ever read dis.. holla at my screen name- xxghetochinitaxx lol!! 5 stars
9/08/03 Dede This film was AWESOME!!! It was so true to life and didn't seem fake. I would recommend it! 5 stars
9/06/03 Gabby Longoria It was a good movie and he is cute. 5 stars
8/20/03 miranda I really liked these characters-one of my favorite movies this year 5 stars
7/07/03 Emperor's New Clothes? Nope. Just a Fat, Ugly, Naked, Guy. I haven't been this moved in...Ever. It's so honest, it's painful. 5 stars
6/10/03 Daniel p Realistic portryal of a hispanic family and a teenagers first love, excellent. 5 stars
6/07/03 Enrica I love this movie, it is so real that I can really relate to it. I love it! 5 stars
6/06/03 Amy I loved the way this movie was filmed and how real the people are. 5 stars
6/05/03 Kim True to life. Amazing! 5 stars
6/02/03 Edgar Serra The love making was left to the audience imagination. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! 4 stars
6/01/03 Sense2k The bitchslap is right on the money - this one is very believable and funny 4 stars
5/16/03 Johnny One of the most moving films in a long while. 5 stars
5/10/03 Audrey This movie is truly worth seeing, it's great. 5 stars
5/07/03 Smorgy I loved these characters! Very real. 5 stars
5/05/03 Garfield White Great! no Hollywood hooks. Texturally real. I would take a group of teenagers to see this 5 stars
4/26/03 joy best film i've seen in a long time....sensitive, real, funny, moving....very moving 5 stars
4/26/03 Mitch Wonderful 4 stars
4/25/03 Tony Great movie...one of the best I've seen in the last few years. 5 stars
4/22/03 Barry Eskandani Real! Beautiful! Authentic! Sexy! 5 stars
4/22/03 noemi romero this movie was hilarious many latino's can identify with the plot. 5 stars
4/21/03 ashok this is a beautiful, compelling movie.. see it! 5 stars
4/20/03 sMASH bOOGIE i saw "FIve Feet High and Rising" back when and i think their acting improved 5 stars
4/19/03 Lois Eltman Warm, realistic, charming, unpretentious and refreshing! 5 stars
4/18/03 Carmen It was a wonderful experience!! 5 stars
4/17/03 MICHELLE DIAZ THE FILM WAS REALLYGOOD AND FUNNY 5 stars
4/16/03 oberon loved it, loved the rusak boys... 5 stars
4/12/03 carole jones Absolutely wonderful. very real. At the end I felt like I wanted to cry. 5 stars
3/30/03 Marty This movie was real, funny, touching, and I'm going to see it again. 5 stars
1/23/03 Sean Why can't all movies be this good. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  28-Mar-2003 (R)
  DVD: 24-Aug-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  23-Oct-2003




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