Eugenio Derbez’s bilingual film “Instructions Not Included” has been breaking records left and right since it hit the box office last month. But more than that, it has also paved the way for other Mexican movies to do well among U.S. audiences.
“Pulling Strings” is riding the wave of Derbez’s success but it’s also pulling its own weight, becoming the new indie film box office hit. Released last week, it has earned $2.5 million already, making it the second consecutive bilingual hit by Pantelion Films.
“All I can have is gratitude – for the people who have gone to see it and have enjoyed it,” the film’s director Pedro Pablo Ibarra told Fox News Latino. “It’s so good that we were able to give them a moment of entertainment, love and tenderness.”
“Pulling Strings” focuses on Alejandro, played by Mexican actor-singer-heartthrob Jaime Camil, a hardworking Mexico City mariachi singer struggling to raise his young daughter after his wife’s death. When things start getting out of control, he decides to send his daughter to Arizona to live with her grandparents, but his request is denied by the American embassy.
At a mariachi gig, he sees the embassy worker who had assisted him – Rachel played by Laura Ramsey – as she celebrates a promotion that will take her to London. He takes this opportunity to try and fix his daughter's visa situation somehow.
Aided by his friend Canicas, played by Mexican comedian Omar Chaparro, Alejandro takes Rachel on an adventure that opens hearts and minds to new possibilities. At one point Alejandro even asks his relatives to mob his mariachi band to make it seem like they are a huge deal – “Like eh, Justin Bieber-Mexican!”
Ibarra, who is in Mexico City filming a series “Dos Lunas” for FOX, said when he first read the script he fell in love with the story, the dialogue, the adventures Alejandro and Rachel go through.
“I liked that it has three elements integrated in the film: comedy, love and tenderness,” the 46-year-old director said. “It’s also a tribute to Mexico and mariachi.”
He said the fact that the movie was bilingual from the start was helpful when it selling it to the producers, because it effectively shows that love is multilingual, multicultural and can happen anywhere.
“It’s a comedy – a simple comedy – that audiences like because it is authentic,” Ibarra said. “It’s a father-daughter story, it’s about love. All of those factors are appealing to the public.”
When asked about the movie’s success compared to that of “Instructions Not Included,” Ibarra said he can only thank Derbez for opening the door for movies like these into the U.S. market.
“(These movies provide) a nice moment in the theater, with characters and stories they can relate to that have been translated for them,” he said, adding that the sheer size of the Hispanic community in the U.S. also helps. “They see themselves in these movies, in these characters.”
“Audiences are going to like the movie. They are going to see a love story and a beautiful Mexico,” said Ibarra, who has closed a deal to film a second movie with Pantelion next year.
“Pulling Strings” also stars Tom Arnold as Rachel’s boss and Stockard Channing as her mother.
Follow Lucia I. Suarez on Twitter @luciasuarezsang