A review of “Duck Season” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: *** 1/2

Rating: R for language and some drug content. In Spanish with English subtitles

Run Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

 

 

This black-and-white gem from Mexico is a charming reflection on a day in the life of mischievous teens.

Best friends Flama and Moko (Daniel Miranda and Diego Cataňo) are in a state of adolescent euphoria. Flama’s mom has left them alone in her working-class apartment to fend for themselves. Video games and pizza are on the agenda.

Their leisurely idyll is shattered when 16-year old neighbor girl Rita (Danny Perea) rings the buzzer and asks to use their oven to bake herself a birthday cake. Shortly thereafter the power goes out, putting the kibosh on a blissful morning of X-boxing. Forced to take action the boys dial Telepizza, who promise a hot pie within 30 minutes or your money back. Gentlemen, start your engines.

The delivery man (Enrique Arreola) has problems of his own, navigating his motorbike through the chaotic streets of Mexico City and hoofing it up eight long flights of stairs to Flama’s apartment. Eleven seconds too late according to Moko’s trusty stopwatch.

Pizza man disagrees and refuses to leave without the cash, culminating in the quintessential Mexican stand-off. Determined to have it their way the boys propose a winner-takes-all Halo futbol fest. Victor takes the pizza, loser gets nada.

As the match reaches a fevered pitch of scoring and screaming…the power goes out. Leading to a colorful turn of events involving two boys, a pizza man, and the girl next door.

“Duck” is amiably reminiscent of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Risky Business”, profiting from the age-old concept of when the cat’s away the mice will play. Writer/director Fernando Eimbcke recognizes the fractured delicacy of teenage dreams and the potential pitfalls of a splendid day of play. Boredom jockeys for space with a desire for adolescent experiment and the very real frustrations of coming-of-age.

Eimbcke’s crisp visual sense and ear for comic timing propel the narrative forward with honest energy. That vigor along with spare flashes of compassion makes for a very good time at the movies.